Pro-Woman; Pro-Life

To say one is pro-woman and pro-life is contradictory to some. For me, it is a personal statement that I’m sure some of my readers will understand. I am someone who is committed to encouraging women to be all that God calls them to be. That could be a leader, a follower, a mother, wife, or singe woman.I believe that women have special gifts and talents which should be celebrated and strengthened.

I also believe that life begins at conception and that life should be cherished from that moment through death. I believe that life rests in the hands of a loving God and it is not up to man to determine when life should end. That also means that I am against the death penalty.

I am also a woman who has been held back by men in the workplace and in religious settings. I am a woman who has seen women promoted to equal standing with men, and I have heard stories of women who believe they were passed over for men. I understand that for many years men have made decisions on behalf of women and the tide is turning as women step into places of authority. I also believe that we must always consider the merit of the person and not the gender or lifestyle of an individual when making decisions about roles.

I am pro-life because I am one of those women who was bullied into obtaining an abortion. It was a matter of my marriage or our child and I made the wrong choice–in both cases. I have talked with many women who felt they had no option but to seek an abortion and have suffered their decision in silence. It has taken years for me to even tell the people closest to me about my own experience for fear of judgement, recrimination, shunning, or even hatred. Today I find when I am willing to share my story other women open up and share theirs. Together we grieve and heal. Every year I remember that dreadful day and I pray that in sharing my regret I can help other women struggling with their own choice to choose life.

So yes, we can be pro-woman and pro-life. We can support women when they find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy to choose life. We can direct them to resources and more importantly, we can commit to help them. This is especially needed for young single women who feel they have no other choice but to seek an abortion. We can reach out in love and compassion to women who made the choice to have an abortion. For some, we need to guide them to someone to pray with them for healing.

The one thing that leaves me disappointed today as men and women take to the streets of Washington DC to stand for life, are the few resources that actually come alongside a woman in need of financial and emotional assistance to care for her unborn and born child. We as a pro-life community need to do more than give lip service to our cause. This is the time to make a real difference in bonding together and committing to the actual care of women in pregnancy crisis. Adoption often is not a desired choice for many women and families, and therefore, we need to find a way to become less than mouthpieces and more like brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers, counselors, and guardians to these unborn children.

We as women MUST support other women in all the trials and joys of their life. To that end, if you are a woman who made the abortion choice and live in the northern Virginia area, please feel free to message me and I will gladly help you find healing and recovery. If you are pregnant and don’t know what to do- I am including some links below for you.I hope you will reach out to someone for help where needed.

God bless you brave women!!

Sanctity of Life Ministries, Fairfax, VA

Care Net

Bethany Services  in Fairfax, VA(including adoption)

JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care)

 

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I Am Not Invisible: My Personal March

I can still remember standing in the middle of the cafeteria at The Meadows and screaming those words. I was on a perch above the lunch crowd, dutifully acting out my task for the day. At that time I was a woman who felt unseen by her family, her workplace, her church, and even the people in treatment with me.

I had come to this point because for most of  my life I felt invisible. I had learned to hide in a family with alcoholism and domestic abuse, to stay under the radar. I had been body-shamed either for developing early, being too fat, or being too skinny; so I tried not to call attention to myself. I grew up at a time when most women were not seen for their value-added in the work environment. And although I knew women in ministry areas, others frequently were held back to certain “lady-like” areas: prayer teams, women’s ministry, altar guild, and hospitality.

I understand how some women today can feel invisible or at a minimum, not heard. It took me three times of yelling out “I AM NOT INVISIBLE” before the people in the cafeteria even turned to hear me–and then they applauded my bravery. Funny thing is, they didn’t really see me after my bold action, but I saw me. I learned that I needed to stand up for myself, even if no one else was with me.

Even when we push forward and make strides as women, some still evaluate us based on our sexuality or ‘beauty.’ One of my challenges in a government position of leadership was to maintain my femininity while asserting myself in a mostly male-run environment. It was not unusual to see women take on more masculine traits to be validated while women who maintained femininity were seen as light-weights (or light-headed?). I still remember a dear friend asking me during an event at a conference: “What would a man do? He would just go right in like he belonged there, even if he didn’t get an invitation.” It was a reminder that we as women need to step up and out of our comfort zone to be seen and heard. And we need to do it for one another.

I can understand why some think that they need special treatment (i.e., legislation) to overcome the bias that continues to exist in work places. Unfortunately, there is no legislation that will change the mind (or behavior) of some individuals about women, anymore than legislation has changed the opinion some have about the LGBT community or minorities. These minds will only be changed as those of us who see the value and worth of women (and other communities) promote their merit and help secure a future for them.

All things are legitimate, but not all things are helpful. All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive and edifying. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

I know that we need to rise above the negativity and not come down to the level of those using vile language to describe and assess women. We don’t need to repeat their words to be heard – we need a new positive language that validates what we already know. We were all created in the image of God and all have the same value in his eyes and should have it in the eyes of each other. We don’t need to take terms that defile women and turn them on ourselves. Our strength will come from demonstrating and demanding respect for each other.

I have taken my own steps in that direction. I have bonded with other like-minded women and we are uplifting and encouraging one another. I have thrown my hat in the ring for leadership positions because even if I was overlooked, my name was in front of those making decisions. I am committed to building a community of single persons, especially women. I am studying ways to help them see their contribution and to stand with them as they discern their ministry or professional calling. And I am using this platform to share my story of transformation and new life to encourage others to seek out help where it is needed.

Let each one of us make it a practice to please his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him. Romans 15:3

I am not invisible anymore. I know that I was made for purpose. My purpose, my calling, may differ from yours, and I respect that. We may view world priorities differently, and I am willing to learn from those differences in opinion. I have discovered that being happy and content in my skin may make some people uncomfortable, and that I need to step into leadership respectfully understanding that change is never easy. I will keep my one-woman march forward going, with my eyes turned upward and with the prayers and support of those that believe in my journey. I will be responsible for me and not blame others when things don’t go my way–I will find a way to make it work if I discern it is God’s will.

My prayer for you today therefore is that you become willing to take action to be seen and heard where you are called to be an instrument of change. I pray that you will seek God’s will for your life and step forward with courage. I pray that you will go high when others go low, that they may see up from where they stand. I pray that you will sow seeds of encouragement and that you will be a vessel of compassion for those less fortunate for you. I pray you will go with God wherever he takes you.

For the Lord shall be your confidence, firm and strong, and shall keep your foot from being caught. Proverbs 3:26

The photo used for this post is the ‘invisible’ stealth carrier.

 

Navigating the Wave of Change

Change is to alter, make different, transform, to switch, and to break from the old. Change can be difficult when we first realize we must do something differently in our lives. Change can be even more traumatic when thrust upon us and outside of our control. 

If we have made the decision to change something in our lives,  it is likely that we are moving toward or away from something. Angela Dunbar writes that we move away from that which we don’t like or  toward something beginning–often with goals set. If we make a decision to change things in our lives and in our environment, we need to consider the actions we should take and then commit to those actions. Through the process of reaching a new state of being,  we may discover areas that require healing or we may come upon new information that causes us to re-evaluate the steps we are taking. It is important to remember that this is a journey and while the path may take unexpected turns, we need to stay with the journey to the end. In the pain of change comes true transformation.

And then there is change beyond our control. Some event may occur that knocks us off our feet. This usually happens in relationships. Perhaps the person you thought you would have a long-term relationship with isn’t on the same page as you and your friendship suddenly ends. Perhaps you have unexpectedly lost a loved one–a parent or a spouse/partner. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were forced into retirement when you still wanted to work. This sort of change is much more traumatic because we frequently don’t have the time to process the change; it just happens and we are left without a plan.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I know for me that without my faith and trust in God to guide me through change, planned or unplanned, I would most likely curl up into a little ball. I have actually done that on occasion; however, I am fortunate that some wonderful women of faith reached out to me and reminded me that I am loved, I have value, and I have worth in the eyes of God. And when I think I am alone, I must remind myself that God will never desert me. I can pick up my bible or a spiritually-influenced book and let the words guide me through my times of uncertainty. Some times its a short process of getting on with the changes while other times I dig my heels in and it takes enormous pain (hitting bottom) before I will do what I need to do. No matter what, the commitment is to embrace the change, to grow, and to become better than I was the day before.

If we were to look through the bible we find it full of stories of individuals who were thrown into circumstances beyond their control and came through the fire, changed for the better. Look at Moses who walked away from a charmed life to live in the desert and ultimately became the voice of the Lord and a leader of change for a nation. David, who made extraordinarily wrong choices that cost people, including his own child, their lives. He became willing to embrace change and altered the course of history. What about a young woman who had a plan for her life only to have the angels tell her nothing she was planning was a great as what God had in mind. And in her obedience, the world was changed.

For 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.(Jeremiah 29:11)

No matter what is happening in your world today, change is going to occur. How we navigate the waters of change will determine our ability to find joy in the change. If we take the perspective that change is an awful painful thing against which we should fight, it is likely that we will drown in depression and anger or sadness. If we can accept or even embrace, the change (planned or not) and seek God’s will for our lives, we will ultimately find peace and maybe even joy.

I pray that you will seek out the positive aspects of change, ask the Lord to reveal his new plan for you, and trust that a new day is coming. I pray that your heart and mind will be transformed and that you will be challenged to share what God has done for you with others who suffer. May you find blessings in your trials and courage to take action.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

 

The Line Between Can’t and Won’t

We’ve all said it: “I can’t right now,” and we usually launch into a litany  of  reasons as to why we “can’t” do something. I don’t think many of us ever say, “I won’t” do something; however, we frequently mean won’t when we say can’t.

Have you ever been in that place that something just tugs at your heart? It seems no matter where you go something reminds you of that urge. Is there some thing that you strongly believe should be changed or improved and you wish you could be a part of the change? Do you know someone who is passionate about a social injustice or mission area and you have often thought “I could never do that.”

The Bible is full of stories of people who said “I can’t” to God. Jonah was directed by God to deliver a message to Nineveh that could change their lives. Jonah took off in the opposite direction, was swallowed up by a big fish, he prayed, and God sent him back to Nineveh. He didn’t think he had what it took to deliver a dangerous message, and yet God called him to this mission and it was worth it in the end as lives were changed.

When we say “I can’t,” Jesus says, “I will.” The apostles frequently questioned Jesus when he told them to do something. Just look at the way the disciples grumbled when Jesus said to get food  for the 4,000 plus followers who sat and listened to Jesus. “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” They were done and ready to just leave. Jesus, however, had other plans and fed all who stayed and even had food leftover. We need to trust that if we are willing to say “yes”  the Holy Spirit will overcome our fears and great things can happen.

Taking action is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves. When we say yes and shift our focus to the needs of other people, we change ourselves. When we ask others to pray with us to discern the next right step to take, we are uplifted and spiritually nourished. When we trust the call we hear and step forward, God steps forward with us. I believe we are closest to God when we are fulfilling the mission he sets before us–even when that mission or call surprises us.

If you are hanging on to a call, if you have heard from the Lord, or if you are waiting for clarity, I encourage you to seek the prayerful partnership of others for the courage to take the first step. Ask for prayer to overcome  your fear and prayer for an open door through which you will walk. And then walk on my friends–walk on in faith and joy.

He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9

 

Finding Purpose in My Own Skin

This past week the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” has been playing in my head. I know it is in large part because I finally gave in and became willing to receive healing prayer for some areas of my life I was hanging onto. I was walking around with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, listening to the voices of long ago tell me I would never amount to anything. I was living out their negative prophecy for my life and it was keeping me from fulfilling a vision I received over 20 years ago.

I love to sit with people and hear their story. I love to encourage others to look for and live out their vision. I love leadership and facilitating community. I love writing and speaking and sharing how God has done amazing things in my life. But I frequently stop short in leading and trusting the gifts and talents with which God entrusted to me.

I have frequently compared myself to other people who use their gifts in the way I should use mine. I’m sure some of you do that too- you see someone who seems to have it all together and you think: “I’ll never be that ____.” But no where can I find Jesus telling us to compare ourselves to another person. He simply tells us to use our gifts or they may not grow or they may disappear. We learn in Matthew 25:14-30 that we are given talents and it is up to us to decide how to use those talents. We can become fearful and hold tight to the gifts given us and make “safe” choices in the limited way in which we use those talents. Or we can take a risk, live boldly and use those talents and invest in others. You see, God gives us what we need and it is up to us to step forward, even if it seems risky.

Through healing prayer I found that I could break from those voices. I could see the lies I had come to believe and embrace the truth that God had already prepared the way for me to take action. Key word  being action. We are uniquely made and we are uniquely called to action. So we won’t look like any other individual nor will the actions we are called to take look like any other call to action.

I hope that if you are feeling unable to move forward that you will share that reservation with someone else. Ask them to pray for you and with you. Seek out a coach, a spiritual director, or a healing minister to free you from whatever holds you back. There is such incredible joy when we live in God’s will and presence and not in our self-made fears and reservations.

 It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. (Ephesians 2:10 Living Bible)