In Her Shoes – Mom’s Day Tributes 2014

I thank God … when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you,
which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice,
and I am persuaded is in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:3a,5

Y Presenting our 2014 Mother’s Day tributes … Y

 
 


I just spent a few days with my Mom and every passing year reminds me of how much more I am thankful for her. 

God has been very gracious to our family, and I praise Him that He was merciful to save my mother.  I don’t remember a lot about my little years, but I do remember her talking with me one night about Jesus.  That was the beginning of my spiritual journey.  As soon as all of us were old enough to be in school, she started teaching again. I remember many hours of our week were spent at church and school.  I am so thankful for her selfless giving which helped allow us to have a good, Christian education. Fatigue often hit in the evenings, and I really didn’t have a clue as to why she was always so tired. But now I do!

She faithfully taught by example that I needed to rise early and spend time with Jesus.  As I grew older, she taught me many practical skills that prepared me for my future role as a wife: cleaning, organizing, ironing, baking, gardening, cooking.  Being well prepared in those areas was a huge advantage when the parenting learning curve began.

I am thankful for her counsel and confrontation. I still remember the day that my parents pulled me aside and pointed out a major sin area that I needed to address. God was very kind to bless me with parents who spoke words of life to me. I am especially thankful for the example of love, submission, and servanthood that she lived out in her marriage.

As the years have passed, God has grown our relationship to a more intimate level. The last few years have given us many opportunities to share what God is teaching us from his Word. I am so thankful for the trials and difficulties that He has chosen for our family to drive us to Him. This has drawn us much closer together as we cry out to our Father in prayer. 

Just recently, I finished a Bible study through Hebrews that  she shared with me. I am so thankful that we both know and serve the God of hope. Mom, may we ever know and love Him more! May we run with perseverance. Looking ahead to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Thank you for pouring out your life to serve and bless me!  I love you.

– Megan, North Carolina

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God graciously saved my Mom when she was in her teens. She grew up in an
unsaved, dysfunctional family. She has been through many trials through her life
and come forth as gold. I am privileged to be her daughter.

I have seen her grow
in her walk with the Lord. She has shown tremendous courage in the face of
difficulties that other people might have just run from. I know I didn’t always
appreciate her and was a rebel at some points, and I am thankful she always
loved me no matter what. She is constantly serving others, especially her
family.

Through her many trials in life, she has put together a booklet of
Scripture verses and quotes that have helped her. She puts these in a flip photo
album that stands up so you can see one at a time. She has a ministry of giving
these albums to people going through very difficult times. It has blessed so
many people over the years. I love to be able to give them to people I know and
then hear how God used it greatly to comfort them.

Over a year ago, my Mom was
diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It was during those first few months that
I turned to her booklet of verses for God’s comfort. Her testimony through it
all is a blessing and a testimony of God’s goodness. Right now she is responding
well to medicine that is keeping her cancer at bay.

Thank you, Mom, for the
strong, godly heritage you pass down to me and future generations!

– Tracie, Minnesota

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A Tribute to my Grandmother, Grace Braymer Mears

2014-02-26 11.25.31
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”  Titus 2:3-5 NASB
 
In reflecting upon my grandmother’s life, a multitude of thoughts come to mind. This passage however, was foremost in my thoughts. Grandma’s life truly reflected the heart of this passage. Her life was one of modesty. She did not have to be the center of attention; she was content in being in the background, quietly serving and meeting the needs of those present. Her words were “seasoned with salt;” I never heard her say an unkind word to or about anyone. She was an able teacher. This is evident in the lives of her children. All of them are upstanding in their character, hard-working in their chosen occupations and ministries, faithful to the work that God had chosen for them. All have served in some measure in the Lord’s service.
 
She taught her daughters well by example to love their husbands and children, even when it might have seemed like God wasn’t working. She was sensible, pure, and kind. She kept her home in order and diligently worked to preserve the yield from Grandpa’s garden. She was subject to her husband. All of this is lived out in the lives of my aunts, Lucy Hess and Gloria Ruby. She was also a good model of what a godly lady was to be like for her sons, who in turn chose godly young ladies to be their wives.
 
When I look at the results of Grandma’s life in relation to my own family’s future, I wish that I had more time to spend with her to glean treasure from her words of wisdom. I want my children to grow up as well as hers did. I wish I would have had the insight to ask her those questions when I had the chance. I did not feel the pressing need when she was able to communicate with me. Now that my children are growing, I am really feeling the need for her insight. Even to the end, she was seeking to impart wisdom and godliness. Her last words to me from her hospital bed were “Praying for one another,” showing her heart for others and her dependence upon God.
 
Grandma was a quiet lady. She loved her husband and family and was content when they were happy. Proverbs 31:30-31 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” Grandma, I am so thankful for the godly heritage that you have given me. I treasure it and will strive to pass it on to my children. I love you. God’s Word has been honored in your life. May it be so in mine.
 
– Sharon, Ohio

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 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
 
This picture was taken shortly after my oldest son was born in 2006.  My Mom and I have so much fun together, no matter where we are.  Anyone who knows her knows that she is very sweet and thoughtful, putting others first.  I like to think of her as a queen of hospitality.  And I’ve never seen anyone send more cards to express love! 
 
Part of the reason my Mom is so kind is because she has a heart for God and for people.  Since God saved her years ago, she has tried to walk closely with God every step of the way.  My Mom prays for me (and many others) several times a day.  I imagine that her praying heart was shaped by years of waiting on God to become a mother.  Over the space of about 15 years, my parents gave birth to three girls, and during that time also lost seven babies.  God brought them through many painful moments, and what He taught them is clearly described in her life verse (seen above).  She smiles so beautifully from the inside out because she knows God has a wise plan, and He promises to provide every step of the way.
 
My Mom is my best Girlfriend.  I thank God for her every day.  And I am especially thankful that someday we will be together with Jesus, able to meet for the first time my brothers and sisters gone before, and my own three sweet babies … together enjoying and praising God for eternity.  I love you, Mom!!
 
– Sara, Iowa
 

 

Please feel free to give tribute to a special woman in your life, below.
Thank you for stopping by!
– Sara

In Her Shoes – College Ministries

d in the area of college ministries … as well as from two women who have been impacted by college ministries.  Thank you to those who have so graciously share
Our church was filled with international college students,
waiting to hear the gospel and to get free furniture

God is the Answer

by Dottie Hatfield

I grew up in a church that taught that the way to spend eternity with Jesus was by keeping His commandments. By the time I was 23 I had just about given up on God because I was constantly failing. I decided to join the Peace Corps. Perhaps serving God and man this way would ease the aching in my heart for peace. I was sent to Chad (in Africa) and there for the first time heard that the Bible teaches heaven is a free gift. This gift comes because all my sin was paid for on the Cross. When Jesus cried, “It is finished” that is what He meant. I wanted to tell everyone this wonderful good news. I started by writing all my friends in the U.S. even a young lawyer whom I had dated (who later became my husband). He was the only one, at the time, who was interested in this wondrous truth. God wonderfully brought new life to him about a year later and we both wanted to study the Bible and serve God wherever He would place us. I am sure that every missionary believes that they have the best job in the world. I know I do. My particular field is “the world” in that we are ministering to International Students from around the globe. We have the opportunity to be their friends and help them navigate this new culture and the loneliness that comes being far from home. God had prepared my husband and me for this even before we became Christians because we had both served in the Peace Corps (at different times) and knew what it meant to be a stranger in another country. College students are at a stage in life when they are asking the big questions: what is the purpose of my life, why am I here, where am I going etc. The International student is somewhat different than an American student in the way he/she processes these questions. However, the questions can be stepping stones to finding the God who loves them and has a purpose for their lives. People ask how we meet students. One answer is that we meet them through other students. We offer English conversation though this is not as important as it once was because their level of English has vastly improved in the last few years. However, there are always some who need help in this area. We meet them through activities: picnics, our Saturday night meeting where we serve dinner and then have a Bible study. We have them over for dinner and games. You are only limited by your imagination. In recent years we find that students really want American friends their own age. Our church family and the Bible College “down the road” have been a good resource. The most important quality you can have for this ministry is a love for young people. Love finds a way to connect. The missionary who led me to Christ while I was in Africa taught me that concept. He learned it from his Savior. I think you need a humble attitude about your own culture too. We can learn from others and should. What are some of the struggles we face? I learned early that it is important as I stand before God, that I teach the Bible, not traditions, not my culture, and not my preferences. I think the hardest thing is when you see someone walk away from the truth. However, we serve the God of all comfort. He has blessed us with so much and I am grateful that He will never leave us or forsake us.

“who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”  Romans 4:18-20 ESV

Circumstances do not give us hope.  But the promises of God do!  And when we are just trusting them, we are already giving glory to God, which should be enough for us. I am grateful that the gospel that I heard in Africa is still the “power of God unto salvation.” We have a message that can give hope in any situation. Let’s share it!

The World Is at Our Door

by Elva Craig

I’ve been working with Campus Bible Fellowship of Iowa since 1976. This ministry reaches students when they are open to new ideas and learning to think for themselves. Internationals are more than willing to learn about the Bible and Christianity.  These students are forming their own beliefs away from home and peer pressure. It is a terrific mission field where the people come from around the world to our doors.

Blessings:

  • Sharing the Gospel with those who have never heard
  • Seeing students saved, growing in the Lord and often later becoming active in their churches (some even coming back into CBFI as staff).
  • Children of former CBF’ers attend CBF and become a big help to the group.
  • Church people getting involved with the students
  • Seeing Internationals saved and going back home as “missionaries”
  • Opportunities to travel around the world visiting former students and their families (this has helped when making new contacts)

Challenges:

  • Having enough church people (especially men) to help as conversational English partners, to teach Bible studies, or to call on students
  • Sometimes only having one year to work with the students (as for visiting scholars)
  • Having an international student get saved and then go back to their home country and not be able to find any church or Bible study group
  • Some don’t know English well enough to understand a Bible study
  • Some students get too busy and they have no time for a large group or small group Bible study

How You Can Help:

  • Help teach English
  • Become a conversational English partner
  • “Adopt” a student
  • Invite them into your home
  • Share holidays
  • Teach a Bible study
  • Be willing to give a student a ride to church
  • Call on new students
  • Just be a friend
  • Teach them American customs
  • Teach them how to go grocery shopping here in America (bring them with you sometime)
  • Show them the things to see in your area of the country
  • Invite them to church activities

My life verses are Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

And since working with international students, I really like Revelation 5:9.  People will be singing praises from all nations.  We have a part in that.

“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'”  Revelation 5:9

Literature Tables + Atheist Club = Blessings!

by Nancy Miller

College campus ministry is one of the greatest mission fields in the world! We are thankful for the opportunity to reach out to both International and American college students!

One of the reasons campus ministry is so strategic is because college students, who have learned our language and our culture, come from all over the world to our college campuses, therefore we are able to share Christ with students from all over the world, right here in the United States!

Many of these students have never before had opportunity to hear that Jesus loves them so much, that He suffered and died on the cross for their sins and then rose again, and that if they personally believe in Jesus, then they can receive the free gift of eternal life! After students come to know Christ personally here in the United States, and after we disciple them, they return to their home countries where they can share the Gospel with their families and friends.

Not only do we reach out to International students, but we also reach out to American students. One of the ways we reach out to American students is by sitting at our literature table in the student union. Each day at our table, we display a question of the day, such as:

  • “Can You Harmonize Evolution and The Bible?”
  • “Do We Get Into Heaven By Believing About Jesus Or In Jesus?”
  • “How Do We Know God Exists?”
  • “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?”
  • “Are All Religions Basically the Same?”

Atheists, Agnostics, Pantheists, Pluralists, etc., come up to discuss the question of the day that we have displayed at our literature table. This gives us great opportunities to share the Gospel! Also, the atheists who come up to talk to us at our table invite my husband to come to their Atheist Club so they can ask him questions and hear what he has to say about various topics. We are thankful for the many friendships that we’ve been able to build with atheists!

We are able to build friendships with students at our Friday night activities (such as Welcome Back to School Dinners, Fall Festival Parties, Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas Parties, Valentine Parties, Chinese Culture Nights, Hot Topic Discussion Nights, etc.). We also build friendships by having students into our home for meals, by taking the students hiking, to museums, to the zoo, and to other fun events. One of the main goals we have is to get students to the local church! Therefore, we pick up students for church; I also coordinate the students to sing together for specials at church, and I accompany the college students who sing or play their instruments at church. Some of the students even help with other ministries of the church such as Children’s Church, the High School youth group, and help run the church sound system.

As far as a specific passage of Scripture that I especially treasure in regard to our college ministry: We are constantly asking for God’s power to work in lives–for His glory! Also, because we “reason” with students who come up to talk to us at our Lit. table to discuss with us our “Question of the Day,” I am reminded of Paul’s ministry at Athens in Acts 17:16-34. Verse17 says that Paul reasoned in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then, in verse 34, it says that some joined him and believed. We are thankful to be a part of reaching out to students on our college campuses, the future leaders of the world!
 

 

CBF and My Local Church

by Lorie Nelson

Campus Bible Fellowship at the University of Iowa had a lot to do with my getting involved in many aspects of ministry. The most direct influence was in music, while the atmosphere and example set in the CBF group members encouraged me to step up and serve in many other areas of ministry.

Nancy Miller, our campus missionary’s wife, encouraged me to begin singing in the music ministry. I had always LOVED to sing, but I only really did it in the car or somewhere else where no one was listening.

One day, she set me up with a duet with another student. We sang together at a CBF banquet. While I was terrified, I truly enjoyed it. She then began asking me to participate in more duets, until, finally, she coaxed me into trying a solo. Because of her direct encouragement and putting me to use, I have been a regular part of music (and now getting teenagers out there to sing and play instruments) in the church for more than 20 years now. I think God used Nancy, through CBF, to encourage, train, and equip me for this area that I may never had delved into had I not been involved in CBF.

In general, the overall atmosphere and culture in CBF and among the other college students and young people in our church set a tone for my becoming active in local church ministry. I was a brand new Christian and had never seen people serving in the church.

Just seeing fellow students step up and hold dorm Bible studies, work in various ministries, invite others to church, etc. was an example I learned to follow. To them being involved in CBF and also the local church was not just for the fun of it; it was for ministering to others.

While I was in CBF I began to serve and teach in AWANA and Junior Church in our local church. My husband and I also started a young marrieds Bible Study in our new apartment because of the example put forth in CBF. There were various other ministries we were involved in as a result of the culture set forth in CBF, and we are still actively serving and teaching and hopefully leading by example today.

I was saved the school year prior to my coming to college. As a new Christian who had never attended a Christian church, I believe CBF had a huge impact on my life for years to come, showing me that healthy Christians are actively involved in their local churches and looking for ways to both lead others to Christ and to encourage other believers to serve the Lord.

 

Testimony of Salvation and How Great God Is!

by Anonymous

I grew up in a family of four siblings with a Buddhist background. When I was nine, my parents broke the news to us that my dad was having an affair. Family and friends told us that this was due to karma, and that it was because we had done something bad in our previous life. We were told to accept it, and to do more good things in this current life so that we would reincarnate to have a better life.

But I never understood the meaning of going to temple, and why the “gods” I was praying to never answered my prayers – that things around the house never got better, even when I was being a good girl, studying hard, not smoking, not drinking. I didn’t understand the concept of doing good works and being able to reach that state of nirvana.

I left home to study college when I was sixteen, and at that point of my life, I was completely detached from any kinds of religion, and was constantly burdened by calls from home, and stress from school.

Two years later, I came to the states, and was accepted into Iowa State University. A year later, I find myself struggling even more with studies, and struggling to understand what my purpose was being alive. I felt that I was wasting my parent’s money with my poor grades, and that I was worthless.

Friends around me noticed this, and started questioning me about my belief, and shared Romans 6:23 with me,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV).

This helped me realized my disobedient to God, and went on to learning about Jesus dying for me, so that He may redeem me, and that through His resurrection, I will earn eternal life with God.

Praying to God a week after that, I proclaimed Him to be my Savior, and with the new life He has provided me, I dedicate it to serving Him, which God had answered immediately, by placing me in the LIFE team. I learned to trust God with my life, and that I had a purpose on this world, to become His laborer – to make Him known. In Ephesians 2:10, it says

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(ESV).

This verse has helped reminded me to constantly walk with God, and to learn to be more like Christ. I am just so blessed to have such a personal God that would change me day by day, and looks forward to everyday spent with Him.

  Have you considered investing in the lives of college students in your church and community?  Perhaps you are already involved in a college ministry.  Please feel free to post testimonies and questions below!  Thank you for visiting Women On God’s Mission.

 

In Her Shoes – Child of My Heart

This month weare privileged to step into the shoes of five sisters in Christ who graciously share their adoption adventure with us.  Each God-weaved story is a beautiful example of God’s love for each of us.  So, sit back, relax, open your heart, and see what God will do through this article in your life.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 

Our Miracle Boys

by Joy Meinders

I have had a newborn three ways: private adoption, giving birth and foster care. With all three, the bond of motherly love I felt was identical. It is definitely natural to love a newborn.

Our first adoption was through a Christian agency. It took us 7 years to complete the process:  two years for our home study, another three years to save the funds, then “next on the list” for another two years. During this time, my prayers for a child would increase then decrease. It seemed impossible at times. Also, I felt very guilty for thinking that another mom should hand me her child. Our adoption worker would counsel me that she had made choices that placed her in this situation … that had nothing to do with me.

When we finally received news of a birth mother, we were ecstatic! I could hardly believe my dream of becoming a mom was going to come true. I can’t put into words adequately, the joy and grief (for the birth mom) as we watched her put a precious son in our car. It was the regulations of the hospital. Everyone was crying and I kept asking our adoption worker how would she ever be ok. He just kept saying, “By the grace of God.” It was an incredible joy to be a mom to my angel baby. He was such a good baby, and is very loving and gentle still.

Three years later, I gave birth to another miracle baby. (I know, they all are!). It was several years later that a friend, on Right-To-Life Sunday challenged us-if you are pro-life, what are you going to do about it. The answer will be different for everyone. I started praying, not knowing that my husband had also. God directed both of us, separately, to pray about becoming foster parents, with adopting a possibility.

While going through our foster parenting classes, a guest speaker came in and told us, “You are the guardian of the bond.” I have always loved that saying. If we’d allow the children to bond to us, and they moved on, it would aid in their bonding capabilities in the future. We saw this firsthand with the first baby we fostered. She is completely bonded with her family. By doing this, when they leave, it tears your heart, but God repairs your heart and allows you to continue in His strength, doing what He has for you.

When praying for our next placement (while fostering), we earnestly prayed for children and knew if God placed them with us and there became a time for adoption, that was from God. Well, God placed two little, neglected and traumatized boys in our home. Overnight, our house changed dramatically. Screaming ensued and continued for months. It is very difficult to bond and stay committed to boys with endless screaming!

I would call my husband at work and tell him I couldn’t do it. He would pray with me and tell me that we’d talk about it when he got home and if they needed a different family, that was ok. He got home and helped, shared his peace and strength, we’d pray together, etc. and I would think, “Ok, this is from God, we can do this.” Then, he’d go to work the next day…repeat! I just had to come to the place where I realized, just because God didn’t answer how I thought He should, doesn’t mean He didn’t answer. He did, and He will give me the strength to continue and stay committed to nurturing and growing the bonds with the boys.

Our two older kids were so encouraging to me. My oldest would say, “Aren’t you glad we have the boys? I’m so glad they are here.” They were both very helpful also.

On the other side, bonding for the boys to us also continues. I praise God the worker could see that they were so bonded to each other, she didn’t separate them. One boy was ignored by adults from 2 weeks old on. One would go with anyone, without fear or realizing he shouldn’t. The first time our littlest one cried when we left him (a definite different cry from his others), we were thrilled. He was beginning to bond. When my five year old will look at my eyes, I am thankful for that growth of seeing him bond.

One of the hardest things was that I didn’t “feel” the bond like a mom feels with her children. (This led to more tears than I can say.). It also brought feelings in me of not being bonded to my older kids. It was such a stretching time that I felt broken. However, once I decided, with God’s help, to be committed to be their mom, the bonds started to grow. They are still growing, and I pray they won’t stop. Also, my bonds with my older kids and husband are stronger than ever.

One of the most growing times was when God specifically convicted me of a sin area, brought scripture and I repented, the change in my heart resulted in a deeper bond with my boys. Nothing yet in them changed, but God changed me. This definitely is like our relationship with The Lord. When He gives us a trial or an answer we don’t want, we can resist it and become angry or we can decide to trust, follow and grow through it. Our bonds with Him will increase abundantly. That trial will turn into a blessing!!

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

 

 

Adoption in the Midst of Heartbreak

by Sarah Heywood

God planted the seed of adoption in my heart as a young girl.  I never forgot that, although there would be many periods in my life where I was convinced that God wasn’t necessarily behind the desire; it was simply one of those wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if thoughts.

But God kept working at my heart into adulthood.  Despite being married and a busy, homeschooling mom of four sons (including one with multiple special needs) I never forgot that call God had placed upon my heart as a girl.

When my youngest son was two, I began to sense a renewed stirring in my heart towards the idea of adding to our family through adoption.  We really thought our family was complete, though.  In fact, I had suffered a small stroke after the birth of the last baby and doctors had told us our family had better be complete!  The recovery from that stroke took a long while and I could not believe it when I realized that God was speaking to me about adoption!  Didn’t He realize all I had going on already?

I gave God a long list of reasons why adoption at this point in my life was a really, really bad idea.  God said nothing, but quietly continued to work on heart.  Finally, in frustration, I told the Lord that if He wanted us to pursue adoption He would need to give me a clear sign.  I would be completely mum on the subject and my husband would have to approach me about the idea.  I knew he was perfectly happy with our four so I didn’t really anticipate that ever happening.  But if it did, well, then I would have my answer!

Nine months later my husband, Paul, and I were enjoying a date night.  Midway through our meal, he paused, looked at me, and asked, “So, what do you think about the idea of adopting?”  I guess God had given me my sign!

Still, I was frightened.  It took several months of prayer before I finally came to a complete place of surrender and willingness to pursue adding to our family.  Once I got there, though, the doors began to fly open.

Paul and I ended up pursuing adoption through our state’s foster care system.  Initially, when thinking about adoption, foster care was the last way I wanted to do it because of the many horror stories I had heard over the years.  But yet, once I was completely surrendered to whatever God was doing in our family, I found I was no longer as worried about which adoption direction we took.  At the same time, though, I knew with an absolute certainty that we were walking into pain.  How I knew that, I can’t say, but I do remember feeling quite peaceful despite that knowledge.  God was leading and we were following Him, no matter where that would take us.

We took the required classes and were licensed in January of 2012.  Then, came the waiting for THE call!  That finally came five months later.  We were ecstatic! Two little sisters, nearing the end of their time in foster care needed a forever family.  The night before I was to pick them up, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited!  The next morning we picked up two frightened, small, little girls and instantly fell in love.  Well, maybe not instantly.  I wanted to love them right away, but truthfully, that love took awhile to grow.

We definitely had a period of adjustment ahead of us! I had a three year old who was mad at the world and seemed to delight in finding ways to make her new mom explode in anger. She was absolutely determined that nobody would tell her what she could and could not do!  My eleven-month old was solemn and outwardly compliant, but it wasn’t until later that her real personality began to emerge and we realized just how traumatized she had come to us.

Parenting the girls was really hard at first.  I would make slow progress and then we’d have a required visit with Birth Mom which would inevitably undo some of the work I had done. It seemed like overnight my work load doubled around the house.  Many times I was cranky with the kids when I should have been rejoicing at how God had blessed me.  But, thankfully, He was working despite my many failings.

As the months wore on, things really began to fall into place.  My one year old made it clear that I was her mama now.  My now-four year old, began to call me “Mom” and we began to see improvements in her behavior.  Paul loved his little girls and they delighted in having a daddy.  My sons began to treat their new sisters as real siblings, rather than just some short, visiting strangers.  Birth Mom had her rights terminated and I began to hesitantly call the girls by the new names Paul and I had picked.  To my surprise, they seemed to prefer the new names!

I remember wondering, “Where is the pain?”  Despite bumps here and there, everything really seemed to be coming together.  That pain I was so sure awaited was nowhere to be found.

It would come, but when it did it would take a form that I had no way of anticipating.

In June 2013 we were eagerly waiting for an adoption date.  While our girls had been the daughters of our heart for some time, it was exciting to anticipate the day that they would also be legally ours.  On the night of June 5th, Paul went to sleep and a half hour later woke up in the arms of Jesus.  He was dead at the age of forty-two after suffering a seizure in sleep.

It’s only been nine months since that night.  The grief is still pretty raw at times.  I know that someday I’ll probably have a lot I can say about single parenthood.  Right now, I am simply breathing in and out as I walk through each day.  I am so grateful for the loving care of my Heavenly Father who has carried me through this heartbreak.

Despite Paul’s death, the state allowed me to keep the girls.   I was so incredibly thankful that God allowed us to stay together!  Three months later it was a bittersweet day, as my six children and I met in a court room and listened as a judge declared that Elizabeth and Eleanor were now my legal daughters.  I am quite confident that God rolled back the floor of Heaven that morning and Paul was able to witness the fruition of the dream He had planted in both our hearts!

Raising my children alone is a task for which I feel very ill-equipped.  But I have every confidence that God will walk me through, as He has in every other challenging circumstance in my life.

I had to take the stand the morning of the adoption.  One of the lawyers for the state asked me why I felt I should be allowed to adopt these little girls.  I wasn’t expecting that question.  I thought for a moment and then leaned forward and spoke into the microphone:  I said, “These girls may have been born to a different woman, but they were created to be MY children.”

And that is the truth.  Today, I marvel at God’s persistency in directing Paul and I to pursue adoption when we thought our arms were already full.  God knew what awaited and in His goodness He longed to provide me with the comfort that would come in the form of two, small little girls.

“Being confident of this, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

 

How God Opened My Heart and Home

by Diann Pearson

Our story of adoption is a little different. Most seek to adopt a baby or child and want to know if it is God’s plan.  In our situation God wanted us to adopt a certain little boy and wanted to know if we were willing to submit to His plan.

It all started while I was working one day a month at a care center. A lady I worked with asked me if I could babysit her little boy. Without a prayer, I said, “ No, I am way too busy with my husband gone a lot trucking, taking care of the home, homeschooling our four children and being active in my church.”

She came and ask a second time that night. When she walked away I prayed, Lord if you want me to do this have her come one more time which she did. That’s when Jake first entered our lives.

I babysat him and had him often in the beginning.  He enjoyed coming to church with us on Sundays and Wednesdays . We would pick him up even when we weren’t babysitting him. As he got older we didn’t see him as much, due to other things he was involved in. Then we heard that Jake’s mother had died and Jake was in foster care.

We had concerns about his birth family adopting him.  And before, Jake’s mother had said if anything ever happened to her, she wanted us to take Jake. We talked with Deptartment of Human Services to express our interest in adopting Jake. They were glad we showed interest but told us that his uncle and wife were interested (and would be considered first), along with the birth father and his grandmother.

Even though we were fourth in line to be considered, we felt compelled to take steps toward adoption. We took foster care classes which included: providing a profile with a snap shot of each family member, home inspection, pictures of where his room would be, have our water tested, animals vaccinated, etc. The Lord went before, causing us to take the 40 hours of class in Cedar Rapids instead of waiting until spring to do it in Iowa City (which down the road allowed us to have him in our home as foster parents, because we were certified).

He was stable in our home for a year, which looked good to the courts. During that time his father released his rights and the court declared us to be a more suitable home than with the grandmother, which was Jake’s desire also.

We were thankful that Jake was younger than our children, due to older siblings teaching the younger. We felt it was important that our children all agreed with the plan of adoption before proceeding. We didn’t want them later on to say, “We never wanted to do this.” I wanted them to understand that he would receive all the same rights and privileges as they received. Even the inheritance, if there is any. It is wonderful having God go before us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Whose Need Are You Fulfilling?

by Mary Kamberger

Let me first introduce myself as an adoptive mother to seven of my nine children. Our eldest was domestically adopted in 1986. We then received two biological children in 1992 and 1994. The other six children came to us through China as waiting/special needs children between September 2004 and December 2009.

We enfolded six children into our family in just over five years, and all were in some way, physically challenged as was listed on their paperwork. They, however, also came with various emotional and mental challenges that were not listed on any piece of paper. Although I am an RN by trade, I am a stay at home mom by choice who home schools all the children. Our children from China came home at the ages of 14 months to 14 years, and they are now 10 to 18 years.

The adoption of a child into any human family can be seen as a comparison of our adoption into God’s family in many ways, but the points I would like to stress here are only a few. First of all, consider where the NEED lies. God does not adopt us because He NEEDS us. Likewise, we adoptive parents should not step into adoption because we NEED the child to complete us, our family, or our own personal need to love and nurture.

I would say that most, if not all, adoptive parents have an overabundance of love and ability to nurture, or they wouldn’t be stepping into an adoption. And many see that over time, this adopted child does, in some way, complete them and their family. BUT, to walk into an adoption with this in mind is to miss the true need.

The only NEED that should take center stage is the need of the child. Just like within our relationship to God the only thing we bring to the table is our NEED. God supplies all the rest: grace, mercy, healing, love, forgiveness. That is our position in adoption, too. We, as the parents, are to supply all that is needed within the heart and life of that child…and be prepared to receive nothing in return.

When the child rejects us, pushes us away, screams that we are NOT their “real” mother or father, hits, punches, is totally cold to any emotional overtures we offer, is not on track for their age – academically, emotionally, physically – when they act out in inappropriate ways, hurt our other children or animals, deliberately do their best to hurt us emotionally, physically and mentally, WE…like God…should be ready to absorb it, deal with it, and CHOOSE to LOVE in the midst of it. Let me state that point again:  we must CHOOSE (regardless of wanting to or feeling like it) – to choose to continue to love that child in the midst of their utter defiance and unacceptance of us.

Didn’t God do this, and continue to do this, for us? Adoption is not warm and fuzzy. Adoption is not for the faint hearted. Our spiritual adoption into God’s family came at a VERY high price – Christ’s very blood pouring out His life for us on the cross.

If you are considering the adoption of a child, be fully prepared to pour out your very life for that child. The cost of adoption is high – monetarily high at the very beginning and emotionally, physically, and mentally high for the rest of your days. The very fabric of your family will be changed each time you bring another child in. There is no staying the same, and nothing that promises next year will be any better.

{Now aren’t you simply just ready to JUMP into adoption?!}

Bringing the child home is only the beginning of a very long road to health and learning to live as family. Just like when you are welcomed into God’s family, you are not fully sanctified as His child. We are positionally secure in the love of God but have a long way to grow into our completed sanctification. Each child SHOULD be positionally secure in the assurance of their place within your family, even though they (and you) have a long way to grow as parent and child. Unconditional love is a high price and of absolute necessity within the act of adoption.

Biological children are wonderful, but let’s be honest – not everyone actually chooses to become pregnant and birth a child. “Whoops! children” are born…and too often simply aborted…every day.  Adoption, however, is a conscious, paper-filled, emotionally arduous act of choosing to love another no matter what….no matter their skin color, their health, their future academic potential, their unknown emotional or mental baggage, their inability to love us in return.

Please be ever so wise, with eyes and hands wide open, with no personal agenda in tow IF you so CHOOSE to meet the NEED of a child that is fatherless. Your reward will be great and the Father of all will be there to guide and uphold you every step of the way.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
James 1:27

 

Adoption: A Picture of God’s Love

Anonymous

My hubby and I adopted a little boy. I’m not going to bore you with the details of the actual adoption (though I am enamored with our miracle and the unique way God delivered him to us). I am normally fairly open about certain details. But, I hold back that which is too near to me or hurts too much to think or talk about.  However, I’d like to be able to be honest and candid about a few things – so I’d like to remain anonymous.  And what better way to do that than guest writing for the blog of a friend. So here goes.
A few things to remember about adoption:

1.) It is Biblical.   It is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God through Christ. The more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced that God gave us what He did here on earth, in the color and diversity that He did, so we would have better capacity to understand what He wanted us to know from Scripture. We can’t fully understand our relationship with our Heavenly Father if we look only at biological relationships. Do you know someone who has been involved in an adoption?  There are, no doubt, countless ways God, in His love and sovereignty, wants you to learn from that situation. I am positive that one of them is so you can better imagine how it looks when God adopts us into His family. What a blessed thing. God is so creative and so good to us.
2.) It is Sensitive.   Chances are, if the people you know aren’t volunteering information, they’d probably rather not share. Their silence may be an oversight, but it probably isn’t. Especially if the events are current or very recent (which means it’s on their minds often and they’re not talking about it on purpose). If you want to love them, don’t ask for “the story.” Ask them how you can pray for them – sure – of course they need support and they would likely really appreciate it coming from you.
3.) Remember though, we all come into contact with many people – many good, loving, God-honoring people – but that doesn’t mean every secret is meant for every relationship. Don’t take it personally if someone’s best-guarded secrets aren’t meant for you. Give them some space and love them in the most obvious way you can. Always be kind and pray. Sometimes you may get to do more. But don’t push it.
4.) I, personally, am much more apt to share “the story” with someone who has had ample opportunity to ask for it and never has asked. And then it’s only if the time and my emotions are right. Maybe I’m atypical here, but I’m guessing not. [There are probably points in this one that would work for far more situations than just that of adoption.]
5.) It Hurts.   Oh. So. Much.  I will venture a fairly firm guess that no adoption ever happens without a fair amount of pain somewhere along the way – for at least one, if not both, of the parties (the adopt-er/ the adopt-ee). And normally it’s both. The child who is to be adopted had a situation. Sometimes it’s fairly neutral, sometimes it’s downright ugly. Normally it’s somewhere in between. Lots of times there will be hurts that will have to be dealt with. A little person with more pain than his years should allow. And even if the child doesn’t remember specifics, one day he will very likely wonder. Or he might deal with tendencies and emotions that confuse him. He can’t quite put his finger on why he feels xyz but he does.

And then there are the adoptive parents. Sometimes adoptive parents adopt because it’s their “first choice.” For whatever reason God gave them a desire to adopt and they followed it. No infertility, no miscarriage(s), no opportunity to watch a child suffer in need. That happens sometimes, of course. On a first child, on a last child, anywhere in the middle. I know of families like these. These families still have challenges but much of the hurt comes from the adopted child and his history and family growing pains – not necessarily a primary loss for the parents too.

But, for many families adoption was considered when something didn’t go “right.” I AM NOT saying that adoption is second rate. We who trust in the absolute seignty of God know that what might not be our first plan for ourselves is still God’s best for us. The little boy I’m raising – the one who calls me “mommy,” and needs me more than he does anyone else – is God’s best for me. I see it when I look at him and I remind myself often. I love him like I’d love someone I made (I think. I hope.).

But, don’t for a minute think that my knowing these things erases all traces of anger, frustration, doubt and insecurity in my mind. I lost his beginning. I didn’t get to make him. When I go to stuff with him, don’t think I don’t notice that I’m the only mommy who bears no resemblance to her child. I am not an Angelina Jolie wannabe. I can’t make a baby.

When my girlfriends talk about morning sickness and episiotomies and mastitis, all things any right-minded woman would love to scrape by without, well, I missed those things and I don’t feel lucky. I’m not part of the club and likely never will be. I love my son, but sometimes when I look at him something screams inside me “He’s not even yours!” I chase that out of my head as soon as I can, but I know it. It’s there, and to a degree it’s real.

Add to that the shame of even having those thoughts (when you say you trust God and you say you love your son). It’s complicated. It hurts. It isn’t easy. Maybe it’ll get easier with time. I guess we’ll see. We may be smiling (as we should! And we want to!) but we struggle. Each struggle is unique but it’s there.

4.) It is Amazing.   It’s positively beautiful. Without it I wouldn’t have my son or the possibility of other future children. Without it my family would be missing a member who I truly believe God designed for our family – even if He didn’t let me (us) make him. Without it I wouldn’t be Mama, and that’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to be. The benefits well outweigh the costs. This point deserves much more attention, but I’ve already talked a lot…
As you encounter those who are directly affected by adoption …

  • Be sensitive.
  • Love them selflessly.
  • Pray for them – specifically that God will use this most-sanctifying life event to make everyone involved into more of an image of Christ.
  • Look for ways you can speak truth in love, if you see a Biblical issue that needs addressing and prayerfully feel burdened to do so. Think about what you are saying to them about this sensitive issue. Sometimes people say things so flippantly and with no intention to harm and those are the comments that linger the longest and cut the deepest.

We (as “adoption people”) need to develop an measure of “thick skin” because everyone’s soft spots are a little different so we need to be careful not to be over sensitive, but you (who interact with us and may not always understand) need to be careful with your words. May we all look for ways to magnify God and His attributes as we consider this amazing gift that touches us all in some way.

A few verses that encourage me regularly and how specifically they can relate to my adoption journey:

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 

My body can’t give me a child, but God in His grace and strength found a way to give me what and who He wanted me to have.

 

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 

 

I know, without a doubt, that all of the events surrounding my need/desire to adopt, the process itself, and the heartache along the way are one of God’s biggest sanctifying measures in my life until now.

 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

When the emotions are overwhelming, slowing down and focusing on God’s character is something that has given me great peace and the courage to press on when I wanted to quit (and I did consider quitting…a lot).

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine…” Ephesians 3:20

  This is my son. God created this little person so perfectly for our family – it literally blows my mind. He couldn’t have been more perfect for us if we could have given him our DNA. He is more than I ever could have asked or imagined. Thank you, Lord, r the gift of Your Son and the gift of mine.

 

Resources:

Thank you, Sisters!!

 

In Her Shoes – Missionary to Africa

 

I stand here in the kitchen looking out the window. I am watching my 16 year old daughter, Natalie, and her two friends. One is 17 years old and the other is 12 years old. They are laying in a hammock letting Natalie’s kitten climb all over the three of them. The hammock is strung between a mango tree and its own branch (supported by a wooden stilt). They are giggling and enjoying a lazy moment of girl talk. Three missionary kids.
Now, if you had told me I would be watching this scene six months ago, when we first arrived, I may have believed you, but I probably would have simply hoped it might be true. When we arrived, the pain of separating from her brother and sister were too new. The discomfort and difficulty of schooling for her and for her younger brother were also too new and painful. What you imagine life may look like as a missionary in West Africa and what it does actually look and feel like cannot be predicted by the human mind. You cannot fathom the depths of pain you experience for your children’s loss or adjustments to a new way of life. You cannot fathom the pain you will experience for the loss of daily contact with the two adult children you have left in the States. You also cannot imagine the peace God will provide in walking with Him where He wants you. There is a contentment that cannot be adequately described. I have no doubt that this is where He wants us. So many things had to occur for us to arrive here when we did.
Our path brought us to The Gambia a year after I had emergency brain surgery. In August 2011 I collapsed from a cyst creating a large amount of spinal fluid to build up in my brain. Had this occurred here in The Gambia, there would have been no medical treatment available to save my life. If you had told me then that a year later I would be living in The Gambia it would have been so very difficult to imagine. But our heavenly Father knew all of these details years ago. We had originally expected to raise our support, arriving here within three years of the journey’s beginning and bring all four children to The Gambia to experience life together. However, seven years later we arrived here, with our oldest two children in the States and our youngest two children with us. There have been no surprises to our omniscient Father. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us,
“I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
I cannot take credit for God’s plans. I can only thank Him that He makes the plans and carries them out in His time. He doesn’t promise endless days of ease, but he does promise us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He does promise peace and lasting comfort for every day. God’s peace and assurance that He will work all things to His glory is enough for me. I pray this reality for you.

In Her Shoes – Missionary to Scandanavia

“When you surrender to the Lord and serve Him with all your heart, it is always worth it!”  Does this sound familiar?  Having finished our second term on the mission field, I realize now that the statement holds truth depending on one’s perspective about the God one serves.  If your God is the All-powerful, All-sovereign, All-knowing God that the Bible teaches then it is worth the cost.  Many though do not fully comprehend what those costs are, or assume that missionaries are almost super human and can face anything easily.  But being a missionary is not easy and does not get easier just because a person obeys God’s will for their life. A missionary is just a normal Christian who has been given a special opportunity to learn the lesson of clinging to Jesus, only Him.

I had the desire to be a missionary since childhood.  God is smart to put that desire in a child who is innocent to the hardships missionary life can entail, and whose God and faith are so strong and not yet tainted with the “wisdoms” of the adult mind.  I had dreams of ministering where no man had gone before and surviving on the bare minimum to do so.  Kids have huge dreams!

In the end, after much prayer and God orchestrating the next stage in my life which included marriage, stateside ministry, and children, God started working more specifically towards missions. To make a long story short, after seeking third world countries and seeing God close doors and push us in other directions, we headed to Scandinavia.  This was not at all what my childhood pictures had portrayed to me.  Now we are buried in snow all winter (good thing my college in Wisconsin gave me lots of practice), working with people who have no desire for the Lord (and see no need for Him either), and living in a society that lives only to please self.  It is not always easy and yet as I see and meet these people, I learn they are just as lost as any native.  They just have to be shown how much God loves them.  They need to see a godly life demonstrated in front of them.  I am learning to see more clearly that “God so loved the world”, not just those who I think look needy.

Living in this country is cold outside, but even colder in the hearts of the people.  That makes for harsh spiritual living conditions. Immoral thinking is rampant, so one must be constantly filled with the truth of God’s Word to stand strong against it.  You must be faithful in ministering even if no one shows interest for 20 years.  You have no great numbers to report, no masses of churches that have been started.  You learn that to God, one person who listens to the gospel, one person who shows interest in a Bible study, one convert in eight years – are all miracles!

On top of the discouragements of slow ministry, you realize you and your children have to face new governmental regulations you do not agree with.  They cannot be schooled at home anymore – that is supposedly this government’s job.  They must learn about things that we know the Bible teaches against.  They hear and see things we might have been able to protect them from a little longer somewhere else.  They must learn this new language from others who teach them swear words right along with the good words.  They will shed lots of tears as people see them as different due to their life choices.  We must invest time daily to unteach the evil that has begun to take root in their minds and then fill up the empty void with the truths of God’s Word.

And in the midst of all this it is tempting to think that all we can do is pray, when prayer is the most powerful weapon we have.  So we pray – A LOT – and rely on the Spirit to pray on our behalf when words do not come easily (Rom.8:26) You realize you must trust God, who led you to this land, with your dear ones as you send them out into the lion’s den so to speak. We have to remind ourselves often that we are in the safest place we can be in life when we are in the center of God’s will.

After we adjust to realizing that this missionary life for God is going to take hard work, complete dependence on God, and an “I’m not going to quit” attitude, we realize that we cannot just run to other Christians for encouragement as we once did.  We realize that apart from God, we are alone.  On deputation all those wonderful people who shake your hand to say, “We will pray, we will write, we will not forget you” … But real life sets in and you realize that many of them were just being nice.  (Now I know many people who do remember us and pray for us and I am sincerely thankful for them. And know that it would be that much more difficult to survive here without them).  I am talking about all the others, the ones who acted like your friend, even wrote an email the first month you arrived.  But after a few months, you realize life goes on in America. And if you are not seen, you are not remembered.  So you feel completely alone.

To top it off there are no genuine Christians to fellowship with, no doctrinally sound churches to attend, and your husband is now your family’s pastor and you are now your children’s Sunday school teacher and if you don’t get the job done, no one else will help.  Wow, what a wonderful life I had growing up in America.  The Bible was taught in Christian school, in AWANA, in youth group, in Sunday school, in church, in prayer meeting and also in our home.  And that was just in one week.  What a relief for Christian parents to have that support network to help each other pass on the Bible’s truths. So you can see how discouraged I was to learn that if I didn’t do it all, the children would not learn.   So I focus on the truth that God’s Word is all they need and teach as often as I can in every walk of life, praying that someday when they return to the United States they will find a good Bible believing church where godly men and women will get behind them and help them move on in their life for the Lord.

Once we get the fact cemented in our heads that we, our family, could be the only Christians we know here; once we help the children understand that there are no other Christians to fellowship with or be friends with, then we face one more thing.   Our family is not just a county away any more, but a couple oceans away.  I knew it would be hard to say goodbye, but it has been very hard at times. The days come and go – relatives die and you cannot say goodbye, and family members become really sick and you cannot help, or blessings take place and you cannot be there to rejoice with them. 

When years pass and you haven’t met new cousins or had many dates with your husband because there is no one to help anymore, then you finally realize all you have had to give up to follow God.  And you turn to Him and ask Him to fill all the empty places in your heart and help you to run with endurance this “race” He has set out for you.  You cling to the promises in His Word and to His character which will never change and some days you can only cling and hang on in prayer … (remember we are only human).

But other days you see His blessings and His faithfulness and provision and you worship Him for who He is. When you have fought through several years on the mission field and realize you can return to the USA for furlough the excitement level is high.  Then you are shocked to realize that reality in the USA is not the same as you once knew it.  Things change, people move.  You have changed and look at things with new eyes. 

You go to a church and meet one of those people who promised to write but never has, and you smile anyway and try to see them as God sees them and love them just the same. Sadly you see many who only seem to be in church because of an obligation, while you are singing with tears in your eyes as you haven’t sung with a group of Christians in years.  Your children finally meet other Christian kids for once and are shocked not to feel welcomed, or they see that some of the Christians can dress and act worse than their unsaved friends on the field. 

We all see things we have gone without for years, and must guard for jealousy and stay focused on what God has asked of us. Time flies on furlough as you try to minister to supporters and squeeze in some time. You come to understand that you, but mostly your children, do not fit in in either country anymore.  And it can make you feel really lost. 

Then once again you find yourself going to the One person who understands, the One who called you and can help you like no other – Jesus.  And you realize what you are doing is so little compared to all He did for you. Is my God big enough? Yes.

Is it easy to be a missionary? No, not always. Am I tempted to look back at what I had and wish to go back to the USA? Yes, when I am focusing on Satan’s lies instead of God and His Word. But all this was shared not to get pity, but to give understanding and insight into what life is really like for a missionary.

Missionary wives/mothers are just humans like any other Christian wife/mother.  We still hurt, hope, strive, cry, rejoice and hopefully seek God’s will at any cost.  But no matter what “work” is accomplished on the field, the true work has to be done in our hearts and character as God molds us more like His Son.  And this is His goal for every believer, so cling to Him and His Word and allow Him to work in you!(My favorite verses to cling to are Romans 8:26-39.)

 
Thank you so much for sharing about your life in Scandanavia!  We are so blessed and challenged by what God is working in your life.  Love and prayers! 

More about God’s work in Scandanavia

How did you know for sure God was calling you to
Scandanavia?

The
more I have been learning and growing in God’s will, I have backed away from
saying “called” as often as God calls each Christian to so many
things in His Word. It was more like a definite leading which was made more
apparent by God closing all other doors all along the way.  We knew God
wanted us here because He miraculously provided the needed funds on deputation in
an amazingly short time, continued to close all doors except for the ones
leading to Scandinavia and gave peace along the journey.

Do
you think God might lead any of your children to continue as
missionaries in Scandanavia? 

The
Lord alone knows where and how He will provide for my children in the future.
We have no permanent visas or citizenship here, so once they are no longer
dependents, they will not be able to remain in Scandanavia for longer than
visits. Unless they return as adults on work visas, etc. Thus
we must prepare them for moving on even though that is hard for me to think
about. My oldest is almost 16. They would have to pay to continue schooling
here or in the States and here there are no/not many Christians to be found
(thinking toward marriage) , and if they will one day
live in America, a degree from here will not be the best and they will
need to start working on their English more. That is why we are seeing the
States as the one country they legally can move to and stay in for as long as
needed.And possibly get some good Bible education and maybe even meet a godly
young man/woman.

If
the Lord leads our children to return to Scandanavia, praise
God.  But, I can see that they have been starved for so long from
normal Christian influence, that they need to be filled for a while and then we
will see how God leads in the future. It is harder and harder for people to get
into this country, so they might not be able to get in as missionaries any
longer.

When Divorce Comes Home

Divorce -


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This month we are looking at a very painful topic: divorce.  Thank you to each of our dear sisters who prayerfully prepared their testimonies to share with us. 

When God Brought Me to My Knees

My experience with abandonment and divorce is probably not much different than others.  I had no inkling that my husband was having an affair and desired to leave our family.  It shocked me that my husband could so completely turn his back on his family and God.  My husband started his affair when our youngest son was three months old.

She was a coworker of his who was having marital problems.  It first started as a friendship then progressed to more since I was preoccupied with my new born son and my job.  The worst part of it all is the fact I know the lady he was having an affair with and work with her mother.  The other woman’s mother knew, but did not say anything to me because her daughter was happy.  The two of them are still together, and they now have a baby together.

 

Probably the worst part of it all was the divorce trial.  I would not settle out of court because I knew I had to fight for my boys.  Fighting over custody is not easy and brings out the ugly in some people.  I was blessed to have found a Christian lawyer who understood what I wanted.  It is unnerving to see and hear someone you love say negative and mean things about you to try and show you are not good for your own children.  That was the most heart wrenching thing to hear. I could not believe that my ex would use my Christianity as a reason for me not to be a fit mother.  His lawyer tried to make me out to be close-minded and a bigot.

 

Thankfully, the judge did not see it that way, and saw past the attempts.  Also, I had to trust God with my finances, because my husband refused to pay child support.  It was hard to not worry about how I was going to pay bills when I was not getting any support.  It was amazing how God worked everything out with help from family, friends, and my church.  God definitely knew what I needed more than I did. For that I am eternally grateful.

 

I was completely lost and shaken to the core.  God used this to bring me to him and show me that I had been trying to do things my way and not his.  I was broken and knew that I could not try and fix our marriage on my own.  I knew God was leading me to him through all of this.  Yes, I yelled at God and asked him why he was punishing me by allowing my family to be torn apart.  I could not wrap my head around how a divorce could be in God’s plan as for what was best for me and my two boys.
My ex and I had three mandated marriage counseling sessions.  These sessions brought so much to light that I had been trying to fix on my own and not allowing God to lead me.  I found out, that I needed to stop fighting and allow God to work in my life.  I took it upon myself to continue counseling sessions to help my growth and to ensure I was walking down the path God truly wanted me to go.  Counseling was the best thing I could have done for myself and my boys.   I had an advocate who was right there beside me all the way helping me anyway that I needed. The pastor I had counseling with was there to let me work through all my emotions and problems at my speed.  It was wonderful to know I had a safe place where I could go and let it all out.

Getting counseling for my eldest son was also a priority because he was having a hard time coping. He could not wrap his head around how his dad could turn his back on God and his family the way that he had.

 

My family, my ex’s family, my friends, and my church family have also been such a wonderful support for me.  They have all stuck by the boys and me and have been there unconditionally.  I have so many different people to go to for help with anything.  My boys have no lack of Godly father figures to learn from, and I am so thankful for that.  I am glad that God has brought me closer to my ex’s family through all of this and that I can lean on my father-in-law for help with discipline and love of my boys.

 

Since the divorce was finalized, I have moved to be closer to family and friends who are my support system.  My husband is still living with his new family.  I am able to work on showing God’s love to them all on a daily basis.  I know that this is what God wants me to do, and it allows me to show my ex that I still love him.  We all pray that God will bring my ex back to himself and to his family, but if that is not God’s will than that is okay.  God will show me his will for the boys and my life.  I completely trust him in all because he has done so much for us already.

 

Through this whole trial that has encompassed the last 2 1/2 years of my life I have learned so much about myself, about God and his will and path for my life.  This is definitely not the path I would have chosen to walk down, but it is the path God has chosen for my boys and I to walk down.

 

God has laid many scripture passages on my heart through this all and I have my favorites memorized and the others written up and hanging in places around my home where I see them daily.  My favorite Bible passages are: Jeremiah 29:11-13, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4:4-9. These all give me comfort when I am having a bad day and struggling a little more than normal.

 

 

Stopped In My Tracks … God Carried us Through

 

Conflict, Separation, and Divorce: The three words that can stop any woman in her tracks as she walks down life’s pathway.

Sometimes, as I look back, I see that what I thought was a life choice on my part, was only on my side of my marriage.  People must make the decision to remain married for themselves, no matter where they are in their relationship, whether two years of marriage, twenty, or more.

 

At the beginning of our marriage we seldom argued because neither my husband nor I liked conflict in our home. We did have a few arguments and quite a few discussions about how our family was managing.  After being assured that I was being too sensitive about a recent discussion with my mother-in-law, I began to lesson my guard and tried to understand why a woman who had been married to seven different men would be telling me to be careful and keep my eyes open for changes that may be coming (?).

I had been feeling happy with how our jobs were working out and how we were dealing with financial difficulties. Some of our greatest needs had been met with the help of an extra part-time job.  So when we were not able to spend as much time together as we wanted, it was credited to all of the hours that we were working. While I was working the evening shift, he would watch our two young children. Then he would load them up in the car and drive to work were he would punch in two minutes late, so that I could punch out and walk out to the car and he would go into the building and punch in for his overnight shift.  Everything was going so well that I couldn’t have been more pleased.

 

Then after a couple of “guys nights” where he came home very late, I was not so happy.  He seemed to be pulling away and finding fault with everything that we were doing.  He was not happy.  But the biggest secret was not one that I was keeping; it was the guilt of the one he was keeping.  There were other people in our marriage that had not been invited by both of us, so the conflicts began.

 

He was unable to share how he felt and he chose to escape our difficulties by having a couple of girlfriends, as well as other interests.  As one thing led to another, the dishonesty was overwhelming to him, and finally he left.  I went to work one night after asking my family to watch the girls, so that he could go visit and help his mother at her house.  And he just didn’t come home.  I was devastated! I was completely unable to understand that he was not coming back… ever.  He had taken the opportunity to move in with his mistress, just one of the women with which he created a relationship.
The separation of our family was complete. Repeated attempts to reconcile with advice, counseling, and therapy just did not work. It was as if he had made up his mind and there was no changing any of the circumstances or outcomes.  This is not what I would expect from a soft and gentle spirit and someone who knows that God is able to repair and renew relationships.

 

As far as I could see my life was over. But God had a different plan.  This was just one step in God teaching me to rely on Him … not me, not my husband, not even my church and the friends I found there.

I read in the scriptures that a marriage covenant is from now until death do us part (I Corinthians 7:39).  I take this to be certain.  Not everyone believes the same as I do, but since I came from a divorced home with many “girlfriends” and “guy friends” being brought into my relationship with my mom and my dad, I knew that was not going to be right for me.  (I didn’t like getting to know a new person just to have them disappear after about two months of visitation or four or five months of being around.

The constant coming and going made me not trust too many adults, and I didn’t feel like I could be alone with them without them wanting to “get to know me better” or just getting rid of me.)

 

So I chose to stay single at least until my children were grown and out of the house.  If God had a plan of a different path then it would be up to Him to show it to me.  God showed me scripture in a whole new light, like this passage from Isaiah 55:7-9:

 

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

If raising children as a single parent was so easy then everyone would be doing it, right? So, I just kept on doing the best that I could.  I would get my children connected with their Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and youth pastors so they would have connections with godly examples of how families should work.  Sometimes it was a great fit, other times not so much.  But the families in our church would include my children in as much as they could so the kids would see how godly families were designed.

 

And I never told my kids that divorced life was what was easy.  The time spent with their dad and step mom was difficult.  And although they had opportunities to do things with dad that we couldn’t afford to do, I didn’t want them to think poorly of their father.  He was always a hard worker and really tried to understand why the children were conflicted about our situation. The conflict that it created for our children was a constant point of contention in how he and I related as co-parents.  His current wife was not always contributing in a positive way, and it caused conflict within our family quite a bit.

 

But, God is bigger than the human problems that we construct. God is much wiser than the human mind. God is much more gracious than the human attitude. So I found peace in seeking God’s will for not just myself, but also for my “broken” family.  We were a family that prayed together, went to church together, made too much noise during the service together, and served together in our church through visitations, nursery work, children’s church and many teen activities.  This is what our family did to combat the inward looking self-pity that often accompanies divorce.  We used our God-given skills and gifts to reach others with the gospel.

Looking back and looking around… those who are going through divorce, conflict and separation are both a mission field and a ministry opportunity just waiting for loving, patient, godly friends and family to lift them up, befriend them and support them as they find the path that God has for them through and after the conflict.

 

Are you willing to reach out to a family going through this type of conflict?  Here is my advice for reaching out to divorced women and their children:

  • Pray for them
  • Tell them you are glad to see them when they are at church- no matter how many of them are able to make it.  Please be gracious and avoid comments like, “I haven’t seen Dave much lately … has he been ill?”
  • Ask if you could watch the children so the woman/man can go to the store without taking all the children out.
  • Invite the children to your home for an evening meal and family time… this is especially helpful if the father is absent from the home and not involved with leading family devotions.
  • Ask if there are any car repairs/home maintenance issues that you can lend a helping hand to, or recommend a good expert (plumber/electrician…) to help them when they need someone to handle a large job.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my story.  It was difficult, but also a blessing to look back now and see again how wonderful our loving Father is, and how He was always with us during this and all times.

 

Heartbreak andRedemption

 

We were high school sweethearts and as a senior I knew I was going to marry him. We dated through college and were married on June 11, 1994. He felt God calling him to be a seminary professor.  So the focus for eleven years became his schooling. During that time we moved seven times, received three degrees, and had three children. In 2005, he was hired at a seminary, and we settled in loving where God had us.

 

Around November, 2009 I saw things that concerned me. When I asked him, he reassured me everything was fine. About ten months later I stood in the shower sobbing to God, knowing something wasn’t right. Soon after, I started searching the house – drawers, between mattresses, closets – I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I was looking.

 

On October 9, 2010, I found a phone in my husband’s work bag.  I confronted him.  And what I didn’t think would ever happen to us had happened – my husband was having an affair and the woman was someone I considered a friend. I was devastated, confused, and numb. When he asked me to forgive him, I said I didn’t know what that looked like. After finding out he had bought a ring for the woman, I made him leave.

 

The next morning was like any other Sunday except the kids questioned where Daddy was. I said he had a meeting at church so he left early. After church he told the kids (ages 7, 10, and 11) that he loved another woman which hurt mommy a lot and was wrong … so he could not live at home for a while.

 

I got counseling, and by the end of November I knew I needed to reconcile. In early December, just as I was accepting the idea, my counselor asked to see me. When I arrived she prayed like always, but it was slightly different. She ended with “help Amy to know how much we love her.” Immediately my heart began beating faster. She said, “He needs to talk to you. There’s more.” We walked to the pastor’s office, and he told me they had done things in our house and in OUR bed.

 

Before I left that day my pastor said, “I don’t know how you are going to walk into your house or sleep in your bed tonight, but God loves you.” I replied, “I will sleep in my bed tonight, because a week ago a friend insisted on buying me new bedding. I’ve had it on my bed for two days. A week ago I told her it wasn’t necessary. God knew it was, and He took care of it. I know He loves me.”  In February I told him I wanted a divorce. I couldn’t trust him, and I couldn’t go through this again.

 

God worked though, and by the end of April I knew God wanted me to reconcile. One of the things He used was a ladies conference at our church in March. The speaker said, “When my husband asked if I could ever forgive him for the sin he committed against me and our children, I said ‘yes.’” She followed by saying, “In that moment I didn’t need to trust my husband. I needed to trust God.” The next morning I told him I forgave him.

 

Around that same time my pastor said in a message, “The extraordinary acts of God in the world often take place in the context of the faith of ordinary believers who obey God in circumstances that are neither pretty nor easy.” April through September included uncomfortable times in counseling as a couple and dating. It was an exhausting time for me, because while I knew what God wanted me to do, I wasn’t good with it. A godly man gave me this advice, “Obey God now and the feelings will come.”

 

On September 15, 2011, we exchanged vows in front of our closest family and friends. It wasn’t easy to promise “till death do us part,” because this time I knew what I was promising. The past two years haven’t always been easy, because I am still afraid of getting my heart broken again. He recently spent two weeks half-way around the world teaching a theology class to a group of pastors – something a couple years ago he didn’t know if he would ever do again. It was during the time he was away that God showed me I wasn’t trusting Him with my future. God knew I needed him to be gone as much as he needed this teaching opportunity.

 

Things I decided early on:

 

1.)  My life would continue. It didn’t matter what happened the day before, I went to church! I didn’t cancel a brunch I had planned at my house for that Monday.

2.)  I would not talk negatively about my husband in front of my children.

3.)  I would be kind to him. I claimed Ephesians 4:32 and often read, “Forgiveness is all about me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” One time I knew the Lord was telling me to invite him to stay for dinner. I thought, “I don’t want him here.” Yet, I felt the same prompting “invite him to stay for dinner.” I actually stomped my foot and said, “Fine! I’ll let him stay.”

Things God did for me:

1.)  He loved me.

2.)  He was faithful in keeping His promises.

3.)  He was good.

  • The morning of October 10, the first Facebook status I saw was “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love” (Eric Lidell). God hugged me in that moment.
  • When unable to decide if we should come home for dinner or just go to Wendy’s to make the evening easier after a crazy day a friend dropped by and said, “I thought you could use this.” It was a gift card to Wendy’s! It was like God said, “Let me buy you dinner tonight.”

4.)  He prepared me. That summer we were challenged at church to read through the Bible in 105 days.  Our family took the challenge, and every day the kids and I spent an hour reading ALL of God’s Word.

5.)  He took care of my children. My counselor encouraged me to get a notebook for each of them to write anything related to the situation. One night I was looking at my seven-year-old’s notebook, and she had written: “I am scared Daddy won’t get to come home.” Next she wrote “What time I am afraid I will trust in God.” He brought Scripture to her mind when she needed it.

6.)  God provided for us.

  • He provided a vehicle through my in-laws when ours wasn’t worth repairing.
  • He provided financially. The seminary gave me his paycheck through the end of the year. He started a new job on January 3 so there was always an income.
  • He provided a vacation. For a long time we had been planning to go to Disney with friends in January 2011. In October I was sure that trip wasn’t going to happen, but God provided every penny.
  • He took take care of school. My children were in a Christian school, a benefit of my husband’s job. The seminary graciously paid the tuition for the remainder of the year, but I knew the following year I could never afford to keep them there. In March I was hired to work in the school office. One of the benefits is my kids go free which only God could have arranged!
  • He provided a new home. In April I told God He would have to provide a new house for us to move into before he could move back in. That August the kids and I moved.

There are no words to express the pain of betrayal by a spouse. Even with my closest friends by my side I felt alone. But, God never left me. It was after I told him I was going to divorce him that I said to God, “It’s you and me, God, and I’m good with that.” I know He only allowed those things to happen to me that would make me more like Jesus.  And while I can’t say I was thankful for the trial, God helped me to be thankful in the trial. With all the things God taught me and did for me during that time I felt like Job when he said,

“I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” Job 42:5

 

Here are some ways you can help a hurting friend:

  1. Do something! If you feel a prompting from the Lord, do it. Remember the bedding and the gift card? He might want to use you to meet a need in His perfect time.
  2. Don’t say “if you need something let me know.” She won’t know what she needs.
  3. Make a meal.
  4. Don’t stay silent! Let her know you love her and that you are praying.
  5. Be there for her . . . when she is ready. She may have just a couple close friends she turns to. Be okay with not being one of them.
  6. Remember she still has the same interests. She is going to get tired of talking about her situation.
  7. Don’t gossip.
  8. If she has children offer to take them for an afternoon. She has gone from having a husband who shared the load to doing it alone.
  9. Sit with her in church. It can be very lonely sitting in a church pew by yourself when you’ve always sat with your husband.

10.Send cards and include a Bible verse stating a promise or attribute of God. She can read them when she needs encouragement.

11.Don’t immediately preach at her to forgive and reconcile. She needs time to process all that has happened. Let God work.

12.Most importantly pray for her!

  • That she doesn’t make emotional decisions
  • That she will forgive
  • That she will be open to reconciliation
  • That she will be kind to her husband
  • That she would constantly be in God’s Word and stay close to Him
  • That she would see how good God is and know He loves her
  • That she will sleep because everything seems a little better after a good sleep

 

Hope and Healing Through Christ

When Sara first asked me to contribute to this article, I was in the half asleep fog of early morning and agreed to it before I really comprehended what she was asking.  I began mulling over some of the things that helped me through the struggles of being divorced, and I felt excited at the idea that my experience could encourage someone else.  I had every intention of sitting down really soon and writing out my thoughts…but then I was overcome by fear and doubt.  I have a tendency to think I’m not good enough, I don’t have any answers, and I can’t help anyone.

Over the holidays I continued to struggle with these thoughts.  It’s difficult not to feel your “aloneness” more acutely when everything around you is centered on family, togetherness, and love.  I spent too much time feeling empty and alone, and not enough time thinking about the things I’m thankful for, the true meaning of Christmas, and the hope and promise of a new year.  I somehow forgot all the things that helped me, and even wondered if anything really did help.

I put off writing the article.  I think Satan must take particular delight in distracting me from Christ and what He’s doing by getting me to focus on the brokenness of my own life.

When you’re divorced, it’s easy to focus on the brokenness of life. The shattered pieces are all around: the aching loneliness and rejection, the hurting children, the weariness and uncertainty.  But the reality is that all of us, as humans, experience these things to varying degrees and in various ways no matter our circumstances, because we are all broken.  There is a battle for our attention; the brokenness of our lives vs. the victory of Christ. When I focus on the brokenness of my life, I feel discouraged, unloved, and alone.  But I can choose to turn the eyes of my heart toward Christ and His love for me instead.

The truth is that I am deeply loved by the very Creator and Sustainer of the universe. In John 15:9 Jesus says,

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”

 

In Galatians Paul says that the Son of God loved me enough to give Himself up for me.  And in Ephesians he tells me that the love of Christ surpasses knowledge and that knowing that love will fill me up.  I don’t need to feel empty and broken, because God loves me so much that He became broken for me, so that I could be whole in Him.  Remembering the truth of who I am in Christ gives me the courage to face each day as it comes, believing that God is loving and good, and that He has a plan and a purpose for me.  My hope is in Him, not in my circumstances here on earth.  To quote the hymn,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

 

 

Thank you, dear Sisters, for sharing your stories with us.  I am so very sad for what you have gone through.  At the same time, I am awed by God’s loving provision for you and your families. Thank you for helping us learn from you, gaining wisdom and understanding to more compassionately lift up our divorced sisters and their children.  May God continue to lavish His love on you and your families!

Images courtesy of http://www.canstockphoto.com/images-photos/divorce.html

 


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: Melinda@selahsteamboat.com.

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: http://selahsteamboat.com/

 

“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.”)