Category Archives: Women

Why I Did the Unthinkable

Stories of women doing the unthinkable—killing their own children—often make headlines. See this article for a list of 20 such women. There is a collective outrage and feeling of disbelief when women kill their children and we call for the most severe punishment. Often these women have reasons, ranging from mental illness to wanting to free themselves to be available for a boyfriend or spouse to cashing in on an insurance policy.

Well, I confess that I’ve done the unthinkable, too, as have thousands of women who never make headlines. The difference is our children—living children with their own DNA and blood type—were still in our wombs at the time.

And we all had our reasons. I know I had mine. I was young. I had my whole life, my college and career plans, ahead of me. I didn’t want to be connected in any way to the father, who was an older man with a wife and kids, and a rapist to boot. I didn’t want to end up like my friend who got pregnant at 15, had the baby, got married, and now lived with an abusive husband. I didn’t want my mother to be disappointed or angry with me.

The sad thing is none of these reasons justified killing my innocent child. She didn’t do anything wrong. As much as society told me it was okay—the U.S. Supreme Court had even said eight years earlier that I had a legal right to kill my pre-born baby—the knowledge deep in my heart that it was wrong haunted me. It haunts me still. And it compels me to now write about my experience in the hopes of saving even one young woman faced with the difficult circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy to understand that there is no justification that will fully satisfy a mother’s heart.

I held a deep belief that I was worthless. I wasn’t sure where this vision of myself as worthless came from, because by outward appearances I was a successful young woman. I was a college and law school graduate—because in college and law school I could immerse myself in my studies and bury the truth deeper in my heart. I was married to a wonderful man who knew about my past and loved me nonetheless. But I was fooling myself as much as I was the rest of the world.

After law school, the attempts at fooling myself and everyone else came unraveled. I spent seven years living with debilitating depression and social anxiety. I didn’t understand why—I just thought I was broken beyond repair. And I was broken. My spirit was grieving and broken over my own sin and I was mired in a sea of unforgiveness towards myself and others who had hurt me. I knew I was guilty and nothing I did or said, no reasons I had at the time, could justify what I had done.

But thankfully, God has made a way for this woman who was guilty of killing her own child to be justified—to be declared guiltless or innocent—and that is through the grace of Christ. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid for my sin; He also paid for the sin of every other mother.

If you have had an abortion and been plagued by the regret and the guilt, take heart. God loves you still. Like the prodigal son who was welcomed back after squandering his inheritance on wild living, you will be welcomed back into relationship with God. Even as you are far off, He will run to you and celebrate your return.

You are not worthless. Your life is of great value to the King of kings and He desires to heal your wounds.

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It’s Not about Women’s Health

I’ve been avoiding writing this blog post for about two weeks now, but I can’t avoid it any more. If this is truly going to be another fearless year, then I have to write fearlessly, even if that means getting into a difficult discussion with someone over a blog post.

The thing that finally pushed me to write this today was this article I read on the Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) website while I was eating my lunch. It is about the Planned Parenthood (PP) protest this past weekend in Portland, Oregon. There were 300 such peaceful protests across the nation, but this one happened to be where I live and where the headquarters of EPM is located.

I loved one of the pictures in this article because in addition to people holding a sign that says “Planned Parenthood Kills Babies” there were others holding a sign that says “Planned Parenthood Deceives Women.” As I’ve written before, although I am saddened by the culture of death and the many murdered children at the hands of PP, my heart is with the many women who have had abortions and lived to regret that decision. Many of those women, like me, were deceived by PP and are also victims.

The pro-choice voice claims that the right of a woman to have an abortion is a women’s health issue and that PP is about women’s health. These claims couldn’t be further from the truth. Pregnancy is not a disease that needs to be treated or cured. It is not healthy for a woman to have an abortion. In fact, having an abortion increases a woman’s risk of major depression and suicidal tendencies by 30% to 40%, it increased the risk of breast cancer by 30%, and it increases the risk of future miscarriage.

But it was my experience that PP didn’t disclose any of those risks. I didn’t find out about them until after I’d suffered with seven years of major clinical depression (following many years of low-grade depression), been suicidal, and had a miscarriage. So far I haven’t also gotten breast cancer, but with my family history of this disease, I certainly did not need to increase my risk.

The “health care providers” at PP were not concerned with my health; they were concerned only with getting my money. They weren’t concerned with who the father was or the fact that he had been an older man who raped a teenage girl; they didn’t even ask. They didn’t provide any pre- or post-abortion counseling, they didn’t advise me of the health risks of having an abortion, and they didn’t even schedule a follow-up visit. What doctor doesn’t schedule a follow-up visit after an invasive medical procedure?

I left the PP clinic that day, headed off to a Future Business Leaders of America camp, and bled so much that I thought I was going to die. (In fact, when I bled that much after my miscarriage years later, the emergency room rushed me back to an exam room without even checking in first—that’s how serious that kind of bleeding can be.) But PP didn’t warn me about this possibility or tell me what to do if it did happen. I was a scared 17-year-old with no one looking out for my health—PP certainly wasn’t.

Tell me you think a woman has a right to choose to kill her own baby—if you think that’s a defensible position—but don’t tell me that right is a women’s health issue. It quite simply is not.

If you want to champion women’s health, then help women find the spiritual and emotional health to deal honestly with a pregnancy they don’t want. Help them understand that whatever the circumstances that led to their pregnancy, God loves them and their child. There are options, including adoption, which are far healthier for them—and definitely healthier for their baby. What finally got me healthy after the trauma of being raped and having an abortion was the love of Jesus. I only wish someone had helped me find that love before it was too late for my child.

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Stop Throwing Stones

If you spend any time on social media and have conservative Christian friends or follow conservative Christian feeds, then no doubt you have seen numerous posts lately decrying the murder of innocent babies. Especially with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the release of undercover videos of meetings with Planned Parenthood officials, it’s impossible to avoid these posts. I will admit that I’ve shared or liked a few myself, though I am always careful that the right message is coming across in the post when I do.

I see a huge problem with the way the pro-life position is presented in social media. If not done carefully and gracefully, it amounts to throwing stones at hundreds of thousands of women who have had abortions and lived to regret that choice. We know what we did was wrong and have lived with the shame of our choice—some of us for decades. We can’t undo what we did and your insensitive posting of “Abortion is murder” messages only causes us more shame and guilt, delaying the healing for many. Even those of us who know God has forgiven and redeemed us can be hurt by these posts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a conservative Christian myself, in the sense that I believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that it contains the whole truth about God and how His people should live. I am also pro-life, though I was not always. But on the abortion issue my heart is more concerned with the women who were lied to or were in a situation where having an abortion seemed like the only possible choice, and are now suffering from depression, suicidal tendencies, or PTSD, or who are just living a life of fear that someone might learn their secret.

One social media post I saw recently that illustrates the type of insensitivity I’m talking about is this cartoon:

birthday

Frankly, I don’t believe this is the scene in Heaven. Why would a baby in Heaven wish to be on earth? Why would a baby in Heaven “wish” anything? Wishing is for those without faith. People who know God pray, not wish. And these babies know God—they rest in His tender care.

I believe all of the babies who died as the result of an abortion are instead kneeling before the throne of Christ interceding for their mothers. I believe they are asking God to have mercy and praying that the Church would show them grace. I believe they are asking God to remind the Church of His words: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). I believe our children want those of us who killed them—either because we didn’t know what we were doing or because we were between a rock and a hard place and couldn’t see any other option—to hear Jesus say: “Then neither do I condemn you. . . Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

The Church—meaning the people of God and each individual one of us—has to stop throwing stones at women who have had an abortion. We have to choose instead to show them grace and mercy, to help them heal in Christ. I say this as one who needs that grace and mercy every single day just to survive.

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My Schedule

I wrote this poem last Saturday during a poetry workshop at the Oregon Christian Writers’ 1-day winter conference. The assignment, if you will, was to write a poem similar to one titled “Holiday Concert” by Maryann Corbett. This is what I came up with. And when I read it to the group, it made me cry.

My Schedule

He needs my help; I don’t have time
I’m too busy with Bible study lessons,
calling all my ladies, leaving voicemails
They don’t want to talk
But he does, he needs me

He needs my help, my love, my advice
But there’s laundry to do, poems to write
Groceries to buy—milk, eggs, more canned goods
just like the ones already in the pantry
I’m just too busy, it never ends

He needs my help; I promise “tomorrow”
or the next day, but there’s a conference
I simply must attend, and a poem to write
and a funeral to drive to in another state,
and then work. Still he waits, patiently

But I wonder, does he know how much
I love him so, I want to help him
to listen to his woes, to encourage him
Once I’m done paying the bills and
doing the taxes and sorting the mail

One day I’ll look back and wonder why
he wasn’t a bigger part of the endless
schedule of less important things

3/10/15 Update: Linked this today for the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub where Anthony is calling for confessions. This seemed to fit.

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Poetry from World War II

I had lunch today with a dear old friend. She has been an inspiration, mentor, prayer partner, and much more to me for many years. But sometimes I wish I knew her when she was younger—I’m sure she was a real hoot! We met at her modest apartment and talked awhile over her dining room table. I gave her a copy of my new poetry book because I knew she would love to read it. Lo and behold, she pulled a tattered piece of paper out of her Bible and said, “I’ve written some poems, though they aren’t as good as yours.” Now I don’t like to disagree with Norma because she is my elder (by 44 years!), but I have to disagree with her on this one. I think her two poems are wonderful! They were written when she was in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II on Army Nurse Corps stationery, with a few doodles thrown in for good measure. Here’s what the originals looked like:

Norma Poem 2 Norma Poem 1

I asked her if I could type them up so they wouldn’t be lost when that poor, tattered piece of paper finally crumbled to dust and she said yes. She also said I could share them here. So here they are, the musings of an Army nurse during World War II.

Just a Few Thoughts on Philosophy, by Norma Mohr

A tear, a laugh, a smile, a sigh
For these we ask the reason why
And on them ponder

For trials, tests, for happiness
For struggles to achieve the best
For love, for hate, for praise, for jests
We’ve sought the answer

For weary days, for happy days
For insights to life’s many ways
We ask these things, the questions raise
For what, this purpose?

And in our human frailty
We hope to solve the mystery
And also seek a remedy
For life’s vast problems

It is not ours to reason why
A higher power than you and I
Has put us here to live, to die
Nobly for others

*****

My Prayer, by Norma Mohr

I pray for love instead of hate
I pray for light instead of might
I pray for strength to carry on
And as I wake to face each dawn
I pray some soul I might inspire
Help him raise it from the mire
Of despair, to shining hope
And newer vision with which to cope
With life’s vast problems

I pray that I might always smile
At troubles, tests, and every trial
That from each one I may arise
Lift my eyes up to the skies
And bring all cares to Him above
Who in His sympathy and love
On us bestows in life’s dark hour
A greater sense, a greater power
To conquer strife

I pray His will, not mine be done
I pray that when each battle’s won
That I not in myself will glory
Nor cause offense or make Him sorry
That I might swallow self and pride
Let Him know I’m on His side
Striving also for that goal
To ignite anew in every soul
The joy of living!

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My Lesson – A Poem

Over at dVerse Poets Pub today, Claudia has challenged us to write about anything we want, but we have to really look at it first. No clichés or hollow shadows of the thing allowed.

My Lesson

My BSF lesson was just some questions,
Bible passages to read—long passages
This is the life of Moses, Exodus and all that

Now it’s filled with my scribbles,
that half cursive, half printing jumble
that is my barely legible handwriting

Good thing no one else has to read it
It’s just for me, and to share with my
Saturday morning discussion group

But the real lesson is yet to come

I’m amazed every week, with each new lesson
that others don’t always have
the exact same answers as I do

We read the same passages yet
we glean different principles as
God’s Word speaks into each life, each heart

My lesson is that our Creator, omniscient
that He is, has a different lesson for me
than He has for you today, this week

Perhaps next week, or next year
I’ll be on the same lesson as you are now
or vice versa as our circumstances require

And that makes me rejoice
that my God truly knows
our daily needs and provides

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Bridging the Distance

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to see Dwight Yoakam in concert. It was a great concert — but then Dwight always puts on a great concert. True to my nature, I’ve listened to a lot of Dwight both before and after the concert. He sang one of my favorite songs called “If There Was a Way” and I realized that I did not have that album on my iPod. I quickly remedied that a day or so after the concert and have been listening a lot to that album.

There is another song on that album that has me thinking. It’s called “The Distance Between You and Me.” It’s a sad song about a couple that has grown apart. The chorus says:

I lie awake and hear you breathing
Only inches from me in this bed
Not much space but it’s all that we needed
To live alone now that our love is dead

This song is particularly sad because it describes so many couples in our society today. They start out their marriages happy and blissful, but somewhere along the way a distance grows between them, sometimes so big it’s immeasurable. The distance leaves them alone even as they occupy the same house, the same bed. Many wonder what leads to such aloneness.

But it’s really no mystery. Quoting Psalm 4:4, the apostle Paul advised, “‘In your anger do not sin’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV). Sadly, so many people do not heed this advice. Pride, anger, and lack of forgiveness cause the distance. One spouse says or does something that hurts the other, maybe intentionally but maybe not. And the other spouse refuses to forgive, holds a grudge. Then another incident leads to another grudge, and on and on it goes. Each grudge separates them and eventually enough anger and unforgiveness destroys the love and intimacy they once enjoyed.

Another problem that causes a distance between husband and wife is when one or the other uses sex as a weapon, when because of anger one refuses the other’s advances. Paul also warned against this situation when he gave his “Instruction on Marriage” in 1 Corinthians:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT).

Thankfully, there is a way to bridge the distance and loneliness, and heal the hearts of estranged love. Honesty, love, and forgiveness will heal all wounds. Live together with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV).

The best option is to live by God’s design for a healthy marriage as revealed in His Word and thereby prevent Satan from getting a foothold in your lives and creating that distance that destroys love and intimacy. But where Satan has already gained a foothold and a distance has grown, that distance can be bridged by love and forgiveness. Love that appears dead can be given new life by God’s grace.

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A Voice for the Voiceless

One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In Biblical times, orphans and widows were the voiceless victims of society. Unless someone spoke up for them and looked after them, they had no recourse for their helpless plight.

God has always been concerned about the voiceless and needy. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV). He calls His people to do the same.

There have long been those who would take advantage of the voiceless, who seek to crush the orphan and the widow. The Psalmist reminds us of what such people do:

They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
Psalm 94:6-7 (NIV).

In our society today there are many who defend the cause of the widow and the orphan. Our laws protect these citizens who historically have been voiceless. Our churches have risen up to provide food and clothing to those in need. We have a long way to go to reach the point when the cause of all has been defended, but we have as a people heeded this call of our God and do our best.

Still, there is another voiceless segment of our society that does not enjoy the protection of our laws. There are even some groups within the church who do not defend their cause. They need someone to be their voice, to defend their right to live.

Today’s voiceless are the unborn who have no legal right to life. Even though an unborn child has her own heartbeat, her own internal organs, and can even have a different blood type than her mother, she has not been given the legal right to live if her mother decides to have an abortion before she is born.

I understand the right of a pregnant mother to choose. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to be strongly pro-choice. I also understand that there are circumstances when the rights of a pregnant woman to not have to carry the child of her rapist to term or to not have to carry a child to term when her health is at risk might outweigh the right of the unborn child to life. The decision of whether to have an abortion is not an easy one, and it shouldn’t be. It is a balancing of the rights of two individuals who are connected by a bond the human mind cannot fully understand.

What bothers me about the pro-choice stance is that it claims that there is only one person with rights to be considered. I agree that a pregnant woman has and should have rights, but those who are zealously pro-choice cannot pretend that they have not made a moral decision that her rights are greater than that of her unborn child. Her child is not just a lump of tissue, like a cancerous tumor, that should have no rights and can simply be discarded without consequence.

Each unborn child is a voiceless human being. God has called us to defend their cause. If we are going to make a choice, let’s be honest about what that choice is.

Note: I wasn’t going to write this post. My post about abortion last week was going to be my first and last. I’d said my peace and thought I was done. But then I kept seeing cartoon posts on Facebook suggesting that if Mitt Romney were elected we would be setting back the rights of women by 50 years because of his pro-life beliefs. I was particularly surprised because a number of these posts were by friends who are Christians. I couldn’t seem to set aside my frustration that anyone would reduce this difficult topic to a one-liner cartoon. It is an issue that deserves more.

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Courting Controversy; Trusting in Love

Normally on my blog the only really controversial subject I write about is my belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. It is a subject I feel strongly about and feel led to share about.

There is another controversial subject that I have never written about here, but that has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact having this post rattle around in my head taking up space for the past month is a big part of the reason I took a month off from posting. I have wanted to avoid this subject because no matter how I approaches it, there is bound to be someone who takes offense and reads something into what I’ve written that was not what I intended. It is a subject that is typically “discussed” with sound bites and angry one-liners.

In the end, I’ve decided to write about this subject in terms of my own story as well as adding a bit of a book review in the mix. This controversial subject is abortion.

For much of my life I was strongly pro-choice. I even attended a NARAL rally with my sister in Portland, Oregon many years ago. I was (and still am) a strong proponent of a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body, and I believed that making sure a woman could have an abortion any time she chose to was the best way to protect that right.

But then something happened that changed my heart and mind on abortion. My son was five years old at the time and I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled because we had been trying to get pregnant with our second child for four years. We were so excited that we told everyone when I was only six-weeks along.

About a week later I started having some spotting so I went to see the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. She sent me for an ultrasound. I had never had an ultrasound before except when I was almost nine months along with my son, so I was not really prepared for what I saw. The ultrasound technician pointed out my little baby and his or her heartbeat on the monitor. The baby was very small, but the human shape and the beating heart were unmistakable.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound also revealed that my placenta was tearing away from the uterine wall. I was directed to go home and rest, and I hoped that it would heal and all would be okay. Two days later I had a miscarriage.

In my grief over the loss of this child I cried out to God, but I found comfort in the thought that someday I would meet my little baby in heaven. Suddenly I realized how hypocritical and illogical it was to mourn the loss of this child only seven weeks after his or her conception while simultaneously believing that to abort a child at the same stage of development involved only the mother’s body. I realized that what Dr. Seuss once said through the words of Horton the Elephant was true: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Several years later a friend loaned me a book titled Won by Love by Norma McCorvey. It is her autobiography as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. She tells the story of how she became the poster child for the pro-choice movement, worked in an abortion clinic, and was ultimately won over by love to the realization that abortion was not a right worth fighting for. Her story is heartbreaking and compelling. In her first-hand recounting of her time working in an abortion clinic, Norma exposes the truth that abortion clinics and doctors were more concerned about their bottom lines than about the health and care of women facing crisis. Her story is worth reading.

Then when my son was in the eighth grade he took a communications class in which he was required to prepare and present several speeches. When the persuasive speech assignment came up, he was randomly assigned the pro-life position on abortion. As he worked on his speech he shared with me the research that he had found in the school’s article database. The research showed that women who have an abortion with their first pregnancy are 30% to 40% more likely to suffer from depression, attempt to or successfully commit suicide, and to get breast cancer than women who brought their first pregnancy to term. I wondered if these risks are shared with women facing this choice by clinics like Planned Parenthood. Based on Norma McCorvey’s story I suspect that they are not.

When all is said and done, I find that I do not advocate for making abortion completely illegal. This would only lead to those who profit from this industry to go underground and abortion would become even more dangerous than it is.

What I do advocate is that when faced with a decision about what to do with an unplanned pregnancy, women should be given all the information necessary to make an informed and logical choice. They should not be led to believe that the only option is to abort their child, because adoption is also a viable option. They should be made aware of the fact that the child inside them is a living being with his or her own heartbeat. They should be informed that having an abortion increases their risk of depression, suicidal tendencies, and breast cancer by as much as 30% to 40%. They should be made aware that the child they are considering aborting may be destined to be a woman who also deserves the right to choose.

But all of the facts, statistics, and rhetoric in the world will never be enough to change a person’s position on this issue. My position was changed by love – by the love I felt for my lost child and the love of God. Norma McCorvey’s position was changed by the love of the folks at Operation Rescue that moved in next door to the abortion clinic she worked at and the love of God. Ultimately it is love that will win the day in the battle for the lives of unborn children who have no voice of their own.

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He Knows Me – A Poem

If you read my blog often you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for the past month. This is by far the longest I have gone without blogging since I started this blog in September 2009. There are many reasons for this, but I think mostly I just needed a break and didn’t really have anything I truly wanted to write.

This weekend I went to a women’s retreat at my church. It wasn’t a full-weekend getaway retreat, but was just a Friday evening and Saturday until 4:00 gathering. I love the all-weekend overnighter type retreats, but this shorter retreat was perfect because I don’t think I could have made it to one that was longer or more intense this weekend. During a session of quiet time reflecting on some scriptures I wrote a poem. I decided I would share it here. The substance of the poem is something I know, but really I needed to be reminded of this weekend.

He Knows Me

He knows me
Still He loves me
He knows me
Yet He cares

His love is everlasting
Pulls me close to Him in prayer

He loved me
From the beginning
He has counted
Every hair

His love is everlasting
Fills my heart with peace in prayer

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6.

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