Displaying items by tag: for the heart

Dear Unplanned Grandparent - You Are Not Alone

One of the primary concerns of many younger clients who come into our doors is how their parents will react to their unexpected pregnancies. How do you reassure that young woman when she hasn't spoken to her parents yet? What about when her mother comes in with her? What can you do to support her as well?

Tammy and Jay Daughtry have spent a lot of time thinking about and working on this topic in their work with CoParenting International, not to mention their own experience of unplanned grandparenthood. With Grandparent's Day coming up this Sunday (September 11), they'd like to share with you a tool to help support the unplanned grandparents of your young clients. Having faced the unexpected pregnancy of their daughter, they have a unique perspective to share. You are welcome to use these letters or take inspiration from them for the unplanned grandparents you encouter at your pregnancy help organization.CIRCLE TD

 

Dear Unplanned Grandma,

You are not alone.

Right now, you may feel overwhelmed and confused or angry and upset. Whatever emotions are running through you right now, just know that you are not alone. Your daughter is not alone. There are ways through all the complicated details that seem uncertain and overwhelming.

I recognize that you might be sad because this is not what you imagined for your daughter. You didn’t anticipate being an instant grandparent without an engagement and a wedding. The dreams you had for your child may look a bit different with the recent news of a baby coming along. But don’t worry – God has an incredible way of re-writing dreams and re-organizing details. Once you hold that new little baby in your arms, like the moment you first held your child, it will all make sense.  What matters right now is that you express your unconditional support to your child and that she knows you won’t abandon her.

No matter what your relationship has been in the past, no matter how frustrated you might be, right now what she needs is your relentless love and support.

She is probably very scared and unsure of herself. She might even be considering an alternative solution to having this baby. The risks are critical regarding how a woman’s body is impacted if they try to end the pregnancy: there are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual risks to her wellbeing, and she may even struggle to have a healthy pregnancy in the future. Those stakes are too high. Protecting your child from ever considering those options will have a lifelong impact on her now and for decades ahead. She needs to know you love her and that you will be with her every step of the way.

And we are here. We will be here to help point you to resources and to have a safe place to talk all along the way.

With relentless support,

Tammy Daughtry

Unplanned Grandparent, Class of 2013

 

Dear Friend -

Our three oldest children have a nine-year spread in their birth years, 1988, 1993, and 1997, two girls and a boy. What’s interesting is that we had our son’s name figured out ten years before he was born. For some reason we had this common assumption that we would have a boy, so we poured over the name books and definitions and settled on just the right name. Not until the doctor exclaimed, “Congratulations you have a beautiful baby girl,” did It dawn on us that not having a son was a possibility. A rather strange position to put ourselves in considering the odds were 50/50. Either way, we were happy with the outcome, but we had to make some exchanges regarding the baby room theme and color, as well as some clothes and toys. Every plan needs contingencies.

Fast forward, it’s June of 2013, one has launched, and two are in high school (we added a third daughter). I guess I hadn’t fully learned my lesson on contingencies, despite working with youth for over twenty years in ministry. Our second oldest, with big sister for back-up, was sitting on her bed explaining through a downpour of anxious tears, that she was pregnant.

Of all the ways I imagined hearing that news one day, like five or six years from now, I hadn’t imagined this moment. The moment that needed me to be fully present emotionally to protect the heart of my daughter from her own shame and self-loathing with an abundance of love and affirmation that whatever the future holds she is strong enough and never alone.

But despite the high likelihood of having a moment of this kind, especially when you factor in the reality of having three daughters, I was not prepared. I hadn’t considered the obvious possibilities and developed any contingency plans. Honestly the adult in the room (me) wasn’t much more prepared than my barely post-adolescent daughter. So, I did the “dad” thing and got analytical, pragmatic, and solemn as I told her about the challenges ahead.

Swing and a miss! I really felt like I had struck out, not because I didn’t know how to do better, but because I hadn’t prepared myself better.

That moment is barely a shadow now because we intentionally made the most of every moment after that. We celebrated the joy of new life while acknowledging the challenges and facing fears together as a family. The timeline was unexpected, but the hope of blessed vibrant future was always our expectancy for our children and grandchildren. My wife and I weren’t any less excited and hopeful because we had a girl when we were expecting a boy. And, the fact that we had imagined becoming grandparents in a different way and timeline, didn’t diminish the anticipation and joyful preparation of the beautiful new life we received in February of 2014.

Dads, we can’t let our desire to protect and our desire to provide, overshadow what our kids need from us most in challenging life transitions. They need our affirmation that they are loved and valued, as well as our future grandchild. As we acknowledge the challenges ahead, we declare our commitment be there for them, not to remove responsibility from them, but to support them in it. Finally, I found it to be invaluable to offer a genuine acceptable of the circumstances as they are and will be without the sting of ongoing reminders of how things were supposed to be. We can’t protect their future by trying to hold on to their past. No one ever becomes their best self by feeling “less than” as they’re reminded of things they can’t change.

Oh, and the word of the day is contingency, with a strong dose of improvise and adapt, and smothered with a whole lot of love and grace.

I’m on your team,

Jay Daughtry

 

To hear more from Tammy Daughtry, check out Unplanned Grandparenting: Casting a Vision of HOPE for the Entire Family, our recorded webinar, and the most recent episode of the Pregnancy Help Podcast, Unplanned Grandparenting

Tammy & Jay Daughtry, MMFTs
Authors, Advocates & Trainers
CoParenting International
Nashville, TN
www.CoParentingInternational.com

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Making Sure We Don't Miss the Miracle

by Brooklyn Tizzano, Extend Web ServicesBrooklynT

When I was originally asked to share this devotional with you, I was over the moon! But it wasn’t much later when a question crept into my mind. “Why me?” Quite frankly, there are people who have been on their walk with Christ for longer than I’ve been alive. I didn’t believe I had anything relevant to offer them in a devotional at a mere 23 years old. 

Because of my hesitancy, I figured the only way to make up for how young and incapable I felt, was to come up with the BEST devotional anyone had ever heard. I wanted it to blow their minds. I wanted it to include every miracle the Bible ever listed. Water turning to wine, walking on water, blind men seeing, Jesus being raised from the dead. I was going to do it all. 

Eventually, I figured it would probably be wise to consider what God might want me to share. 

Nehemiah?

Over and over in my quiet time and in talking to my husband and family, the story of Nehemiah kept coming up. Nehemiah. I felt frustrated! Nehemiah isn’t good enough. Nehemiah doesn’t have any cool miracles or jaw dropping stories! I didn’t see how anything could be gained out of the story of Nehemiah. But through studying Nehemiah, I realized that maybe the miraculous doesn’t happen. But what does happen is that a group of people roll up their sleeves and get to work. I learned that when we are only looking for God in the big things, we will miss him in the small things. 

Our story starts with Nehemiah being in exile and he finds out the terrible condition of Jerusalem, specifically the gates and the wall around the city. Nehemiah decides that he’s going to do something about this. At the time, Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the king, and the king gave him permission to go rebuild the wall and gates, and he even gave him some practical equipment to get started (not unlike Life Launch!). 

Because no good story is complete without villains, in walks Tobiah, Sanballat and Geshem. These guys do not want Jerusalem rebuilt and they make it their mission to stop this from happening. As Nehemiah and his people progressed building the wall, their enemies got more and more angry. 

Have you been there? Excited for what God has called you to do and it feels like immediately you are met with pushback? Nehemiah 4:1 says “Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews.”...“Do they actually think they can make something out of stones from a rubbish heap–and charred ones at that?”

Do they actually think they can do this? We’ve probably heard this often!

  • Do they actually think they can make a difference?
  • Do they actually think they can save a life?
  • Do they actually think they can counsel young parents?
  • Do they actually…

Maybe you’re a lot like me and someone else sees that you’re capable of doing something, but you can’t see it…

  • Do I actually think I can give a devotional at 23 years old?
  • Do I actually think I can run a center?
  • Do I actually think I can help these women and save their children?

Sometimes the enemy is very present and very tangible, and I know, especially with the culture right now, we have a very tangible enemy. But sometimes the enemy is in our head. Sometimes the enemy is what we are allowing ourselves to listen to and not what we know God has called us to.

Setting Up Guards

So what does Nehemiah do when he hears the things they’re saying? He sets up armed guards. Specifically, Nehemiah 4:13 tells us, “behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places.” 

Why does he set up armed guards? Because he realizes that if he isn’t taking the necessary precautions to prepare for the plan God has laid out for him, he might miss his miracle. I don’t believe God uses perfect people. I believe he uses people who are present and prepared. Nehemiah recognized that even though he can’t see his miracle and is surrounded by opposition, he still needs to prepare for his miracle. Nehemiah 4:17 says the guards had one hand working and one hand holding a weapon. But notice that these guards weren’t just haphazardly placed. Remember, verse 17 tells us they were behind the lowest points of the wall and the exposed places. 

Finding our lowest points and our exposed places requires some humility. It requires us to be able to accept constructive criticism. And that’s hard! Where in your life do you need to set up guards in order to protect your miracle in the making? Do you need to make sure you are staying in the Word? Do you need to make sure you’re staying in the community? 

The Mundane

As necessary as it is to set up guards, it can also feel mundane. We don’t always see the tangible fruit from setting up our guards. And when it starts to feel mundane, we can start to question our miracle. When it’s no longer feeling like a miracle, we assume this must just be the mundane. The tricky thing about the mundane is that it’s easier to walk away from. It’s easier to put on the backburner. But if we shift our focus to see the mundane as preparation for the miracle, we would never slow down from that! Sometimes I feel like God says yes, this is mundane work! But I need you to stick with me in the mundane! I need to build your faith in the mundane! I need to grow your tenacity, strengthen your trust and fine tune your skills in the mundane. The mundane isn’t mundane when you know what you’re working for, or more so who you’re working for.

I was a college athlete. No one was applauding me for going to my 6am practices. No one was applauding me for going to bed early on a Friday night when my friends were at a party. No one was applauding me for sticking to my meal plan and drinking enough water during the day. But I never let myself view that as mundane because I knew that God had a purpose for my life. I knew that my mundane, day-to-day grind had a miracle on the other side. And in February of 2017 I won the National Championship in the 60m hurdles. My miracle came out of years of hard, not always fun, day-to-day, mundane tasks. 

And I believe God has a miracle over your life as well! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. So when you’re in your center scrubbing the toilets, you remind yourself that this is my preparation. When you are sending out your 100th email, you remind yourself that this is training. When you are folding the maternity clothes and onesies, you keep your eyes fixed on your miracle. 

And lastly, we don’t miss our miracle by not getting distracted. I heard a pastor say once that if the enemy can’t destroy you, he’ll distract you. This is the shift we start to see in Nehemiah chapter 6. Nehemiah is just about finished building the wall and his enemies find out about this and are obviously not happy. They ask Nehemiah if he can come down to talk to them. Nehemiah, knowing that this is a setup, declines their invite. Chapter 6 verse 3 is one of my new favorite Bible verses. Nehemiah responds to his enemies by saying “I am doing a great work. I can’t come down.” I love how the MSG translation puts it. It says “Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”

Nehemiah declined! Nehemiah recognized that not every conversation he is invited to ought to be accepted. Notice how Nehemiah doesn’t say “Sure, let me come down and change your mind!” He doesn’t say “Let me gossip about it to all my friends and post about it on Facebook to see what everyone else thinks.” No! Nehemiah knew that the work he was doing was a good and God-ordained work, so he doesn’t need to entertain conversations that negate that! A verse my dad would pray over me in college was 1 Corinthians 9:24 “In a race everyone runs but only one person gets the prize. So run to win.” And I feel like sometimes we are all gung ho on running to win and keeping our eyes fixed on the prize, but the minute someone wants to talk negatively about us, we are no longer running to win, we are only running to prove them wrong! When there’s a Facebook post or you receive a text or a local news story comes out that is practically begging you to respond, you don’t always need to entertain that conversation. I want to challenge you to keep your eyes fixed on your prize and not allow yourself to get distracted.

Don't Miss the Miracle

So, how do we keep from missing our miracle? 

  1. We intentionally choose the voice we are listening to. We don’t listen to the voice in front of us, and we don’t listen to the voice in our head. We choose to follow what we know His word says.
  2. We prepare daily for what God has in store for us. God doesn’t use perfect people for a miracle. He uses the people who are present and prepared.
  3. And lastly, we don’t get distracted. We don’t entertain every conversation. We keep our eyes fixed on the prize. 

I wear contacts, however, I can see well enough to at least make my way around my house without needing my contacts in or my glasses on. Occasionally, my husband will ask me to look at something from across the room, not knowing that I’ve already taken my contacts out. After squinting real hard to see what he’s trying to show me, he’ll say “Oh! You don’t have your eyeballs in!” Can I be honest? Some of us don’t have our eyeballs in. Some of us are saying “God! Where’s my miracle? I’ve been doing this for years now and I don’t see it!” But God is saying “Put on your eyeballs! It’s right in front of you!”

We know that we serve a God who never stops working. So even when we don’t see our miracle, even when we don’t feel our miracle, we can choose to roll up our sleeves and celebrate that he is doing miraculous things in and through us every day.

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The Emotional Rollercoaster of Decision Day

by Terri Fox, Program CoordinatorUntitled design 2022 07 05T102558.767

Rejoicing

The anxiousness that defined every Supreme Court decision day since the beginning of June was brought to a conclusion on June 24. That day we waited, and we watched. And then there it was, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health appeared, and Roe v. Wade had been overruled. I rejoiced with a spirit of thankfulness and praise. The Supreme Court Justices had the courage and conviction to examine the laws and the Constitution and overturned a grievous decision that had been made with faulty information and outright lies.

But then I found myself surprised by grief.

Grieving

Almost immediately an overwhelming sadness came over me as I tried to muffle my sobs sitting at my desk. I thought about everyone who had been affected by Roe. Not just the babies unborn, but the women who chose, were coerced, were frightened; the men who did the coercing, threatening, and abandoning, or who were not even included in the decision making process.

As the day progressed, I was still surprised by the depth of my tears. And while I grieved for others, I was again grieving a child that physically ceased to exist, but still lives in my memory. Both of my children died in the month of July. One killed in a car accident. One killed by an abortion decision. I grieve for one more openly than the other, but I grieve for both, nonetheless.

Joy in the Mourning

And then I reminded myself to not linger on the what ifs, but to remember the words of confession and repentance expressed with godly sorrow. And remember the forgiveness received, and the mercy and comfort bestowed by a loving Father.

Work to be Done

As the decision became known, the opinions came pouring in from all around, the people closest to me sometimes hurting the most.

Someone close to me posted, “…I call on all who were so invested in abortion being outlawed to step up with the social safety net that those same ppl are opposed to funding. You now have decided to insert yourself into the lives of these women and children… If you truly care about the life of these children so much so that you are forcing this issue, which, btw, is a private, personal choice between a woman and their God or not God depending on their beliefs, then you need to put your MONEY where your morally superior mouth is…”

And one family member texted, “The Doxology just went through my heart and head.”

As we move forward from the day of decision, I’ve listened to others express their reactions with words like contemplative, somber, a heaviness of heart. There was celebration but it was subdued, because as we’re reminded by these words from the decision, “We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Abortion is still available. There are still battles to be fought. Hearts are still hardened. People are still confused and hurting. They need to hear the truth. They need to see kindness. They need to be lifted in prayer. Pregnancy centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, nonprofit adoption agencies, and abortion recovery programs are still relevant as women and men still need places to find help and hope. 

Doxology

Yes, there is still work to be done. But take heart, we are not in this alone. The divide may be wide, but Jesus’ arms are wide enough. His forgiveness is complete enough. His love is deep enough.

I will share this truth until there is no more breath left in my lungs because I know that “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is 40:31

As for me, I’m singing the Doxology.

Praise God through whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!

If I listen closely, I’m sure I can hear you singing along.

Post-Roe and Facing a Fiery Trial

by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentFire
Heartbeat International

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

1 Peter 4:12-14, NLT

Well, suddenly the term “fiery trial” has taken on a whole new meaning for the pregnancy help movement in the United States.

Honestly, it was so much easier considering the “fiery” part of the trial was just a metaphor. Yet, when more than a half dozen pregnancy centers in diverse states have experienced actual arson attacks, the term fiery is suddenly a very real and present scenario.

We, in this modern day, are very far removed from the types of fiery trials that the apostles, and even disciples, actually faced in New Testament times and afterward. For their faith and their message and their adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ they were imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered. Some in especially gruesome ways. 

Especially in the U.S.A. where we have largely avoided war on our soil, we are unacquainted with an ever-present threat against us. We have not experienced, much less lived with, the real and present dangers of terrorism, societal unrest, and threat of war found in other parts of the globe.

And still the message from the Apostle Peter comes to us over two millennia. We ought not be surprised, but (gulp) rejoice.

It makes no sense to attack the innocent. Pregnancy help organizations did not overrule Roe. But then Jesus didn’t overturn Pilate's rule either. What He did do was make a way of rescue by going through the fiery trials. In fact, was He also not present as the “fourth man” in the fire of Nebuchadnezzar? (Daniel 3:24-26)

Remember that the spirit of abortion is an attack on the innocent. It is no surprise that those who support the violence of abortion will resort to violence.

That is why fiery trials are upon us. More fiery than we probably imagined. And that is because we are standing for the Gospel of Life and God’s precious Gift of Life.

With that there is good news! Peter tells us that, too. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

The Spirit of God is all over the work of pregnancy help. We have seen the miracle of life and witnessed miracles of provision and providence. We have felt the peace of God in the midst of chaotic situations. We have known the Truth when confronting the lies of the enemy of our souls.

Take heart “because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  

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Be a Father Like Joseph

by Matthew Doane, Esq.JosephJesusStatue
Staff Attorney, Heartbeat International

One of my favorite bible verses on children and parenting comes from Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” While thoughts of quivers full of arrows and enemies at the gate pull at my J.R.R. Tolkien-reading heart, verse 3 begins with a declaration that children are a reward from God, a heritage from Him.

While the word heritage can have many meanings, in this context “heritage” can be translated to the Hebrew word of “nachala,” which can mean “assigned by God.” Thus, not only are children gifts from above, but God has specifically assigned us, of all the men in the world, to be our child’s father. What an awesome, yet humbling realization.

As the sole person in the entire world that God has ordained to father and raise our particular children, how do we fulfill this awesome and daunting responsibility? Who better to look to as an example than Joseph, the husband of Mary and the person God selected to serve as Jesus’ stepfather during His time on Earth? While Joseph is never quoted in the bible and appears only briefly in the Gospel narrative, there are lessons to be learned from this important person in Jesus’ life during His time on Earth:

Righteousness

Joseph is described as a “just” man in Matthew 1:19 who is unwilling to put Mary to shame when he learns that she is with child. We are told throughout scripture that justness, or righteousness, is one of the chief attributes of God. As men and fathers, we should imitate Joseph, who imitates God, and do our best to live a righteous life.

Faithfulness

As Joseph is considering divorcing Mary quietly, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and instructs him to not be afraid in taking Mary as his wife and that Jesus would “save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Joseph followed the Lord’s instruction and was faithful to his God throughout the few instances he is mentioned in the bible. While we may not have an angel of the Lord appear to us, as fathers we too should follow the Lord’s instructions left in scripture on how to be Godly fathers to our children and “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.

Protection

One of our principal duties as fathers is to protect our children. After the wise men departed from their visit to the child Jesus, another angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him that Herod was out to destroy Jesus. The angel instructed Joseph to flee with Jesus and Mary to Egypt for their safety. When he awoke, Joseph immediately took Jesus and Mary to Egypt under the cover of night. Since Jesus, the Son of God, was also truly human during His time on Earth, He needed the parental care and protection of His adopted earthly father. We too must provide for and protect our children.

Modesty

The Gospels refer to Jesus as a carpenter, a trade he likely learned from Joseph. The King of all Kings, the Lord of Lords, was entrusted to a carpenter. We don’t have to be powerful, wealthy kings to be good, godly fathers to our children (which is good, right?). God has assigned them to us for His reasons, and our job is to be an earthly reflection of His fatherly love to them.

Fathers, we are blessed because our quivers are full! Let us celebrate this and God’s assignment of His children to us this Father’s Day.

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Moments of Motherhood

by Cindi Boston-Bilotta, Vice President of Mission Advancement
Heartbeat International

As Casey* exited the elevator, it was clear she was in crisis. Her tear-stained face and sad eyes told the story. Casey was a senior in college and pursuing her goal to graduate in a few months but was diverted by the sickness hitting her body due to an unexpected pregnancy. She felt the harsh reality that life was different, and she could never fully return to what she once knew.

Casey entered Planned Parenthood to confirm her pregnancy and learn more about her choices. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but their name indicated they could walk her through this dicey situation. As she entered the clinic, a receptionist, facing a copier and sighing with disdain, finally turned around to face Casey. Through tears, Casey indicated she thought she was pregnant. With an eye-roll and another sigh, the receptionist handed her a card and said, “this will fix everything, honey.”

She handed Casey a referral to a clinic that performed abortions. They thought abortion was her only option. It would be a calculated decision to terminate, but the sting of the word “abortion” didn’t settle well. She wanted a life of accomplishment but wondered if success could include motherhood, as well. But she had no idea where to go for more information.

From her car, a Google search revealed a local pregnancy center that offered “options.” That sounded more like what she needed – she wasn’t sure about anything, but she knew she needed to consider more than one choice.

Casey visited the pregnancy center, and her despair turned to joy as she saw the positive pregnancy test, discovered more about parenting and adoption, and viewed the dancing baby in her womb. That moment in time was forever seared in her mind because she instantly found the joy of motherhood. What was once a burden was becoming treasured. She left the center all smiles as she celebrated the gift of a new life within her body. Now, she knew she could do it.

The pregnancy center team, who used the LOVE Approach – Listen & Learn, Open Options, Bring Vision & Value, and Extend & Empower – gave Casey comfort and safety as she explored the possibilities.

The moments of motherhood look different for each pregnant mom. When the pregnancy is unexpected, courage must grow just like it did with the mothers who were pregnant at the time of Pharaoh – they had to rely on the “midwives” who were fighting for those babies' lives.

Like the mother of Moses, some moms must find the courage to create a safe passage for their sons or daughters.

Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, some must say yes to motherhood when it can threaten their lives if they carry their children.

The moment motherhood arrives is designed to be filled with celebration. But the difficulties of life can delay the celebration. Using the LOVE Approach with expectant moms who must navigate difficult decisions opens an opportunity for them to make choices that bring their hearts alive. It awakens the natural, God-birthed maternal instinct of moms across the globe. We celebrate moms everywhere this week, including moments when courageous moms say yes to life during unexpected pregnancies.

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That Your Joy May Be Complete

by Brooke Myrick BSN, RN, LAS

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:9-11 ESV

As Nurses within the pregnancy help setting, often we are blessed with experiences that fill us with abundant happiness and thankfulness. In comparison, we can also find ourselves experiencing feelings of utter sadness that can bring us to our knees.  The service offered to women and families within the pregnancy help role is a unique service, unimaginable and unrelatable to many, unless they are also united in the same service. Many times, the nursing care offered is concerning a life-or-death decision. As love, care and support are shared, to reach and rescue as many lives as possible, there are times when the woman’s decisions may not be as we had earnestly prayed and hoped. In addition, the conversations had, and relationships built, each distinctly demands an immense amount of physical, emotional, and spiritual support from the nurse. Appointment after appointment, nurses proceed to offer all we can, with all that we have, as we pray for God to guide our words and actions, in efforts to save lives today and for eternity future.

Despite circumstances, how can your joy be made full and complete?

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…

1 Peter 1:8

The joy described in 1 Peter is an inexpressible joy. A joy unable to be given an explanation. This joy is independent of circumstantial surroundings, adversity, and attacks. It is a constant joy independent of the current life challenges. This joy is a byproduct of the love given us by remaining in Him, as referenced in John 15.

In Hebrews 12:2 we read that Jesus endured the cross, for the joy set before him, to become our Savior and sit at the right hand of God. He can identify with our struggles. With every act of service offered and with every sacrifice made, may you also be filled with joy.

With the utmost gratitude, we thank you for your endless hours of acts of service to those entering your pregnancy help center doors. Thank you for your continued prayers for the families you serve and their situations long after their care at your center is complete. You care. You care deeply for those you serve, and this is worthy of commending and admirable.

Your service does not go unnoticed and is making a difference, one life at a time, every single day.

This Nurses Week we are praying you remain in the love of our Father, that his joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

How to Observe Lent in a Pregnancy Help Organization

by Jennifer Wright, Editor/WriterLent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent observed by many Christians. Over the 40 days leading up to Holy Week and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, many Christians follow the example of Jesus spending time in fasting and prayer in the desert for 40 days from Matthew chapter 4.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

Matthew 4:1-3 (NABRE)

I have to admit, Lent is by far my favorite season in the Church. I’m reminded of Jesus’ humanity that he shares with us, I take the opportunity to forgo something good to strengthen my resolve in denying temptation, and, my favorite part, the music is stunningly beautiful. Singing in my Church’s choir since I was about eight years old, I’ve done a lot of music, but nothing compares to the hauntingly beautiful ancient pieces of Lent and Holy Week. Just the words “Were You There?” can draw a tear as I imagine being present for the crucifixion.

But that’s not what I’m writing to share about today.

I’ve always been taught that for Lent, a good practice is to focus on three things: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I can’t say I always manage (human as I am), but I do try, and I think taking a season to pay particular attention to these ways to draw closer to Christ is not only healthy, but necessary. And individuals don’t have to do it alone. Here are a couple ideas for your pregnancy help organization to participate in the Lenten season this year. Perhaps something new will carry into the rest of the year, or maybe it will just make the Easter celebration a little sweeter for you and your staff, but I encourage you to participate this Lent either way.

Prayer

  • Take a break for daily prayer with your staff and volunteers. It can be totally optional (Heartbeat’s 9am daily prayer is, but many participate year-round), but taking a moment to invite everyone into prayer for your supporters, clients, and each other has many benefits, including keeping your team a little more aware of the rest of the organization.
  • Share a particular, specific prayer with any client that you find ready for prayer. This could be something you write, or a prayer you find helpful from another source. It can be something as simple as one line, such as “Jesus, I trust in You.” The goal is to invite clients into a life of prayer if appropriate. Remember, determining the right opportunity for this invitation will take prudence and temperance.
  • Pray particularly for the pregnancy help movement around the world, especially those providing pregnancy help in Ukraine, and refugees fleeing to countries like Poland, Moldova, and other locations. (Click here for specific prayer requests from our affiliates in Ukraine.)

Fasting

  • Fasting doesn’t always have to be from food, but it should be a sacrifice. For example, when fasting from food isn’t a healthy option for me (as a pregnant or breastfeeding mother), I fast from social media. That may not be a good option for a pregnancy help organization building a following on Facebook or Instagram, but maybe fasting from caffeine or mobile games would be a good option. (Note: If your Lenten sacrifice is a trial for the people around you, you may want to consider something else.)
  • Make a sacrifice of simplicity for your meals and drinks for the season, and every time you choose the plain coffee instead of the latte or the water instead of the soda, offer that small sacrifice up for your clients or for a donor you plan to speak to that day.
  • Fast from hot showers (and take only lukewarm showers instead), or give up your pillow at night, and offer that sacrifice up for the success of your organization or the strengthening of your team.

Almsgiving

  • Try offering a new service or material aid to clients. Whether it’s a just-for-Lent kind of thing or the start of a new year-round resource, your clients will be grateful. Just to be clear, offering Baby Bucks or Mommy Money for attending classes and having clients shop for resources is not what we’re talking about here. These are fantastic services, but maybe for Lent, you give out an extra pack of diapers along with every item purchased with what your client earned or something even more generous.
  • Invite past clients or current clients who are relatively well-off to share baby items they don’t need anymore with current clients in need. Maybe even invite past clients to meet with a new or expecting mom who could use a friend. Building the opportunity for others to give of themselves is a great way to facilitate almsgiving.
  • Consider whether your organization might be able to give to Heartbeat’s HALO (Helping Affiliated Life-Affirming Organizations) Fund. Right now, we plan to use those funds to support refugees from Ukraine who need pregnancy help wherever they are in Eastern Europe, and to support our affiliates in Ukraine if and when it is possible.

May your Lent be a blessed time for drawing nearer to the Lord. God bless you.

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My New Year’s Resolution: Cultivating Virtue

by Jennifer Wright, Editor/WriterUntitled design 2022 01 06T134754.748
Heartbeat International

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. The timing feels completely arbitrary to me, most resolutions don’t make it past January or February, and somehow, they never seem to impact my life much. While resolutions make January a good time for the fitness industry, the people committing to more exercise often find themselves paying for gym memberships they aren’t using anymore come springtime. I guess such things have left me jaded (even at 30 years old).

Still, humans tend to need these resets. Even without our current arbitrary date to celebrate the changing of one year to the next, we would find some season, day, or festival to observe a new cycle. We always have. And this year, I’m trying something new.

In 2022, my resolution is to cultivate virtue. The Catholic Church has a list of seven heavenly virtues remembered from antiquity as a combination of the four classical cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude) and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and love/charity). Now, there are other lists that choose virtues to directly combat the seven deadly sins, but this group of seven virtues is what I am committing myself to this year, in fact, I’m specifically working on the four cardinal virtues.

Why? Well, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that these four virtues are acquired only by human effort (different from the theological virtues which are God-given gifts that inform and give life to all the moral virtues). They are habits of moral good that, when nurtured, let us more easily turn away from temptations to sin. (See CCC 1804 and following for more on the seven virtues.) The beauty of these virtues is that they can – and should – apply almost everywhere. Here are some short descriptions of these virtues and some questions we can ask ourselves to check if we are firmly standing in these habits of moral goodness.

Cultivating Virtue at Home and at the Pregnancy Help Organization

Prudence

When we talk about prudence, we mean the practice of good judgement. St. Thomas Aquinas describes it as “right reason in action.” Not only does prudence allow us to discern right from wrong, but it can guide us in what is appropriate in any moment. It may not be wrong to confront someone with a difficult truth, but is it prudent to do so at a family dinner?

  • How can I choose the right moment to share the gospel with a client?
  • Will this client be ready to hear a message of sexual integrity right now? From me?
  • Can I take time and energy to do this good/kind thing now or do I need to refill my cup first so I’m prepared for the next opportunities?

Justice

Justice is the virtue that guides us to make sure that God and others receive what is due them and we assume our responsibilities. Practicing justice ensures that we order things rightly, putting God first. We naturally want to see wrongs righted, but justice can be cruel without mercy, so we must incorporate God’s mercy into our human concept of justice as well. When I practice justice in my relationships, I mostly realize that I’m punishing others unjustly. My husband doesn’t really deserve to be on the receiving end of my fuming when what I’m actually upset about is my own failing.

  • How can I effectively support justice for the unborn?
  • Who am I punishing unjustly because of my own anger and how can I stop?
  • Which client needs me to fight for her to get the support she needs?

Fortitude

Sometimes, fortitude is referred to as courage to make it easier to understand, and certainly fortitude should strengthen resolve, help us conquer fear, and encourage us in the face of trials and persecution, but it’s about more than that. Fortitude is about constancy in seeking good.

  • How do I model taking courageous actions for clients?
  • Am I helping others to overcome fear?
  • Do I persist in seeking good even in the face of adversity or do I give up?

Temperance

Without temperance, anything can get out of hand. Practicing temperance allows us to experience life in a balanced way. It’s not wrong to eat, in fact it’s necessary! It becomes sinful to overeat greedily. Good things, if we overindulge, are no longer good. That’s why we need temperance. We ought to temper our practice of justice with mercy, and fortitude and prudence can temper one another to make our choices more and more virtuous.

  • Is my sense of justice overcoming my capacity for mercy and love?
  • How can I share the truth with clients, friends, and family without overwhelming them?
  • Do I speak too harshly on social media when I should be tempering fortitude with prudence?

I still may not be a fan of New Year's resolutions, but I hope that spending this year cultivating virtue will make the world - or at least my world - a better place. I think a resolution like this is one all of us should make, so why not now? And let's be honest, if I need a reset on this resolution, Lent is coming soon! May we all grow in virtue this year at home and in the pregnancy help movement.

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Regret, Reversal, and Rejoicing

Rey Christmas PhotoBelle sat in the abortion clinic for two hours contemplating her decision before taking the first abortion pill. She was told by the abortion clinic doctor, “that once you take the first pill, there’s no coming back from it.” Eight hours after taking the first abortion pill Belle experienced heartbreaking regret. She searched and found the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN) online and called for help. “I got someone on the phone that was so nice and helpful, also encouraging and positive which is what a woman needs during a time like that.”

The APRN medical team compassionately helped her through the process. Within hours, she had a prescription for progesterone and was working with a provider doing everything they could to save her baby. Belle had faith that Abortion Pill Reversal would work even though she knew it may not, and it did! A healthy and beautiful baby boy named Rey was born on Oct 11, 2021. “I am so glad and eternally grateful for this website [AbortionPillRescue.com] because it saved my baby’s life and mine.”

Baby Rey will be celebrating his 1st Christmas this year in the arms of his mother.

This is the kind of story we celebrate at every opportunity, and we know you do too. Belle shared her story with us to encourage others in her situation that there is hope. We pray for Belle and Rey, as well as all your clients and patients this year that they may have a joyful holiday season and truly embrace the beauty of life.

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