My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.
I’ve been reading a lot more during this time home alone. Mostly I have been reading about the way God can completely change who we are, if we are willing to open that door. I know he has changed my heart, my thinking, and my desires in many unexpected ways. I know God has forgiven me in ways people never have. I know I have found peace in that forgiveness and a greater willingness to offer that same mercy and grace to others. It all started with God moving in my life when I opened myself to his ways over my ways.
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
Bethany Services in Fairfax, VA(including adoption)
JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care)
We planned for our future.
We had a vision for our lives.
Together we would do this.
Then one day;
You were gone.
The future we planned no more.
The vision detached,
Distrupting my life.
No more together adventures.
The world turned upside down.
New plans to imagine.
New routines to make.
New life to find;
Stuck between what was,
What is, and yet to come.
Pulling myself forward,
Out of the dark;
Into the unknown.
Looking for his plan in this.
Holding onto faith.
Yearning for love.
Hiding from tears.
Praying for me.
Resting in his will.
Trusting in his love.
Shattered pieces healing.
New life emerging;
Finding new purpose.
Walking a new path.
From grief to life.
I’m a giver. My mother was a giver. I learned it from her and I heard about it in church. Giving is good—it blesses others. Over the years I have found great joy in seeing someone else light up because of a gift they received. I admit I have even had some pride when I have given to someone in need. Giving is good.
On-the-other-hand, I am not so great on the receiving end. Probably pride there too. I hate to admit when I am in need. I hate to ask for help. I am meek about seeking opportunities that I think I am qualified for because then I have to receive the opportunity and my humility side kicks in.
I watched my mother as a giver. She would sneak a little money in someone’s purse on Sunday if she knew they were having a rough patch. She would pick up something extra and give it to a neighbor telling them she got it by mistake and didn’t want to return it. She did without so her children could have things. She was such a quiet giver that there were people whose lives she touched we didn’t know about until she died. I want to be that kind of giver.
She also would never ask for anything. The few times she did, I think she was mostly rejected. She settled a lot and probably suffered for not seeking help. She waited to ask for help for her marriage, her drinking, and even her health. In her pride and her shame she hid the truth about her pain. If she had only been willing to ask and receive the blessing, her life could have been lived with such joy.
I gave away most of my household possessions when I moved last fall. It was so much fun to empty the clutter out of our lives and to see others benefit from the things I didn’t need. I had to ask for help in the process. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t do these things on my own. I was terrified that no one would see how desperately I needed help. Yet, when I asked my friends and my church family they came out of the woodwork to help me. I even had a friend show up at my door in the middle of the night with Advil when she read on Facebook how tired and sore I was.
I discovered an unbelievable joy in their giving. I was so amazed by their love. I was so blessed.
As I rebuild my household, still keeping it pretty basic, my friends continue to bless me. I have new vacuum, new living room furniture, and now a new bed. I am learning to ask when I need something and to allow someone to experience their gift of giving without my feeling shame. As I think on these moments my heart swells with overwhelming warmth and joy.
I also realize that the asking and receiving fear in my life was a stumbling block to healing the wounded areas in my life. I held back from receiving the love of God and the healing grace of Jesus because I didn’t think I deserved it. I held back from admitting that my way of living was destructive because I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on. I kept my pain a secret as I smiled and moved forward—except I didn’t really move forward because I was trapped in my past. I thought my sins and mistakes were just too overwhelming to let anyone get too close to me. I put up a wall because I thought once you get to know me you will be out of here.
When I became willing to receive help and forgiveness for myself; my whole world changed. If you are sitting in pain or sitting with needs, don’t let your shame trap you another minute. Start on your knees asking for God’s forgiveness and help. Then get up off the floor and reach out to that one person you think you can trust and tell them the truth. Let the healing begin by letting someone know you are ready to receive their help. Do it today. Your blessings of new life are waiting for you.
This post is dedicated to the wonderful givers at http://www.thehardmanteam.com/
There are a number of reasons I am skipping the Fifty Shades movie. Yes, I read part of the book, until it became too sad and painful to continue. I am not a prude. I love sex; good fun adventurous sex. I, however, abhor abuse. I abhor someone taking advantage of my vulnerabilities. I abhor pain inflicted in the name of love–physical or verbal.
I was raped as a young girl. I was raped as a young woman. I was battered in the name of love by two of my husbands. I was verbally abused and talked into things I wish I could undo. It was not fun. It didn’t get easier the more I complied. I also was in a number of emotionally twisted relationships that evolved into the kind of sex in this movie. It was not fun. I was not happy. I was naive and wanted to be loved and so I went along with it. A movie that replicates and romanticizes a similar abusive relationship rips off the scars that have taken many of us years to heal. And it sends a message to women still in these kinds of hurtful relationships that it is a good thing.
We watch with outrage as sports figures and their abusive relationships are paraded in front of us. Celebrities take to the screen to say “no more,” while they line up to endorse the same sad harmful relationships played out on screen. Real people are fired for what this man does to this young woman. Nowhere in this book or movie do we hear this is wrong—that this destroys women’s self-esteem and sense of worth. Rather TV show after TV show glorifies the bondage toys that are flooding our market and laugh that although they would never do this; they can’t wait to see some other women be emotionally and physically tortured.
The kind of relationships I was trapped in made me feel like I belonged as they left me in fear that I would be alone if I didn’t comply. I won’t go into vivid details here but I can tell you that those men manipulated me, they broke my spirt, and they caused me to make decisions that I regret. I regret allowing sex to take the place of love. I regret allowing men in power to make me think I had no choice. I regret staying in these situations far longer than I should have and for thinking this was the best I deserved. I allowed them to use me for their perverse need to be in power and control.
Today I am free of that bondage. I was freed from sexual and love addiction with the help of the good people at The Meadows. More importantly, I was set free through my understanding that Jesus loves me far more than these hurtful men. I was made new and able to leave the past in the past and forgive myself for my behavior. I was able to accept God’s forgiveness for believing when others told me that I was not important to him. I came to believe that I have worth and value on this planet. God transformed me into a person who respects herself and has earned the respect of others through this healing process. I learned to say “no” and to protect myself.
If you are in a relationship where you find your partner making demands on you that leave you troubled–tell someone. I didn’t for many years. If you find yourself searching for sex in the hopes that someone will love you, find a counselor who will help you to see your value. You are valuable! If you are afraid your partner will leave you if you say no to what he/she is asking–leave before you are hurt. Don’t allow the secrets they ask you to keep about your relationship destroy who you really are. You ARE stronger and more powerful when you walk away.
As women we need to encourage each other to look for and to expect the best in all of our relationships. As Christian women we need to pray for each other and to inspire each other to seek the face of Jesus in our relationships. As humans, we need to remember that we are created in the image of God and to treat one another as valuable treasures. We need to turn our hearts and our minds to the things that motivate us toward that which is positive and purposeful. We need to speak truth to each other and to listen to the words that might change our lives. We need to speak the truth to one another and we need to listen when we hear words that could change our lives.
I hope that in sharing our stories we will bring truth to what this movie really represents—violence against women. Were we to hear this woman’s story in the news I doubt we would celebrate what happened to her. This is not a story to celebrate—it is NOT entertainment. It is glorifying what many of us have spent years fighting against—oppression of women. Let us stand as survivors and encourage and celebrate healthy relationships. The kind of relationships where the love is great and so too is the sex. Let us honor the joy of sexual pleasure rather than sexual bondage.
Today I pray you will skip the popular movie and spend and evening encouraging and loving on good friends. I pray you will know true love and joy. I pray you will seek the best God has for you in all your relationships.
This morning I find myself asking: “What do you want me to do?” In my time of meditation I almost feel a crushing desire to be more, but I’m not sure what that looks like or how to get there. I have ideas. I know that I can’t get there without help. I know I can’t get there without dedication. I know I can’t get there without turning my will over and letting God direct my steps. I see a glimmer of his vision for my future and I realize that I have to make a plan and take the steps to get where I believe he is calling me. But how do I do that?
Just as I am sure that God led me to Psalm 25 for healing, I believe he is leading me to Matthew 5, specifically a study of The Beatitudes, to learn how to live a transformed life. These eight principals are complex guidelines given to us by Jesus on how to live our lives as people of character and purpose. I’m no theological scholar and my intent here is not to develop some new understanding of what Jesus meant. Rather, my goal is to gain a better understanding of what these principals mean for my life as his follower. Join me on my journey as I ask questions and hopefully motivate you to think about what Jesus wants from you at this point in your life.
I’m the first to admit that I wondered aimlessly through most of my life with no plan or direction. I was fortunate to have many doors open for me professionally but my private life was a mess. I had a bit of a hippy “go with the flow” attitude and was up for anything that looked like fun. That fun put in me in some situations that I wish I had been smart enough to avoid and might have avoided if I had a better plan. Nothing really inspired me except trying to avoid feeling pain. The only thing that really motivated me was to prove to others they were wrong about me and to paint a bright picture that I had it all together by living a lifestyle someone else told me I should. After I crashed and burned, I rose from the ashes ready to transform the person I was into the person God wanted. It is a slow ongoing process, but I am now willing to listen.
The Beatitudes are that for me. A time to sit at the feet of God made man and to listen to how he says I can be happy. The Sermon on the Mount—the complete teachings that day on the mountainside—are the words I need to inspire me. As we hear and pray on those words, I hope we will all be motivated in a new direction. I pray that at the end of this series, we will all feel that we are transformed by God’s grace.
Matthew 5 New International Version (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
These days I am rather transparent about the life I have led and the choices I have made. I share my experiences because many of them, by the Grace of God, are now behind me. I share my secrets so that others might believe that God still loves them. I share my stories that others who struggle may know that a new life awaits them. I share my story so that others don’t make my mistakes, and if they have made similar mistakes, they know it is not the end. I share hope.
All too often those of us who come through the refining fire refuse to share our stories. I think it is selfish not to tell others how God has changed and redeemed your life. I also believe, that the secrets of our mistakes that we keep hidden, could be the stories that save lives. Yet, many still continue to hide behind some veil of shame refusing to tell others this wonderful thing God has done in their lives. Yes, there may be pain in talking about the past, however, that shared pain may just be what another needs to hear as they struggle with the choices in their lives.
Have you lived through an abusive relationship and are now on the other side living free from fear? Your story of courage and freedom may be what someone else needs to hear for their freedom and to save their life. Share your fears and how you were able to get away and are free to live with joy today.
Have you had an abortion and lived through the tears to finally find forgiveness. Would you do it differently today? Your story could save the life of a child today. Your story could help another woman avoid the pain and loss you experienced.
Did alcohol or drugs once control your life? Did you live with someone abusing alcohol or drugs? Have you found recovery and a new day? Get over anonymity! Share your healing story that another drunk or addict might ask to go to a meeting with you.
Were you once so far in debt or without money that you weren’t sure if you could feed your kids? Have you ever been without a home or a car? Are you out of debt and in control of your finances today? Let go of yesterday and share how you did it with someone like me. Teach us how to work a plan.
Is suicide a part of your family? Have you lost, or nearly, lost someone because of mental illness? Is depression something you have struggled with? Is there hope today that you never had before? Tell your life-giving story that someone who wants to die might live. Share so someone who has lost a loved one might come to understand and feel freedom from guilt. Save a life today.
I could go on with examples. We all have a story. Even those of deep life-long faith have a story. Let your testimony be real. Make what God has done in your life something you don’t think twice about sharing. Share your secrets—especially if you are drowning in your secret today. Reach out and share with someone you trust that they may walk with you. Don’t let your secrets destroy you.
Pass along the gift God has given to you. Multiply his mercy and grace. I encourage you to read The Parable of the Buried Treasure found in Matthew 25. Invest in others. Don’t be the one whose gift is lost.
“No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.”
Psalm 25: 3 New Living Translations
I grew up believing in Jesus—I went to church and I prayed. We lived in a time when being a Christian was a proud thing, until you did something awful and then that was pretty much that! And if someone else brought evil into your life, they were out of there too. As a young woman I lived somewhere between these worlds. I was disgraced by the behavior of the men in my life and I was disgraced by my behavior as a result of these actions. And I tried to hide all of it.
Following the sexual abuse I was taunted by the boys in the neighborhood. I was an innocent child thrown into a world of sexuality, before I knew what that meant. One day I was the princess being carried around on a makeshift throne. It seems the next day the boys were trying to take advantage of me at every chance. I was now free game and the attention I was getting set a thinking pattern for me that said, “Sex brings attention—sex must be the way to go.” Those I once trusted now became my foes. My belief system faltered because I no longer had the same compass leading me. Some translations of this verse say: “Do not let anyone that hopes in you be ashamed. Let the people that say false things without a reason be ashamed.” I was ashamed to be a Christian who felt tarnished and who also was now drinking, drugging, and sleeping around while trying to convince others that I was still this “good girl.” I simply lost my way.
Through my teen years and those as a young woman, I made a lot of bad choices for myself. I had ‘relationship’ after ‘relationship.’ And yet I kept a foot in the church door. I went to church on Sunday. As a good Catholic, I went to confession, only I never confessed my sexual acting out. I taught Sunday school and brought a number of my hurting girlfriends to church and laid a foundation for their belief in Christ today. I went through the motions and in my heart I clung to the belief that somehow God understood. Somehow, one day God would make this all right for me. What I didn’t realize was that it was up to me to make it right by first accepting it was wrong. I needed to look at myself and quit making excuses and blaming others and literally lie in front of the cross and ask the man who died there for me to help me. I needed to be forgiven and changed. I needed to stop living ashamed and disgraced. With each step toward him, he pulled me closer. As I was willing to let go of the blame and the shame, he brought me new dignity. It has taken a very long time to get here, and I’m still working on it, but I no longer have shame in this story of my life. I have peace that today I am wiped clean and can share this with you so that you too can know this peace and joy.
Are you living with the shame and disgrace of past behaviors? Are you afraid someone will find out? Do you want to stop being that person? I suggest then that you do what I did and recognize that God already knows so you can’t really hide it from him anyway! Tell him your pain. Tell him your disgrace. Give him your tears and let him wipe them away. Visualize Jesus holding you and telling you he loves you, NO MATTER WHAT you did. Read Psalm 25 or find one that speaks to your hearts and pray it every day until you feel whole again. Share your healing journey with someone you trust. Ask them to pray with you. And then share your grace with someone else that needs to hear.
Be healed. Be restored!