Saturday, November 23, 2013

How God Healed Me from My Abortion & Miscarriage

Last night we had a service at our church, called Rachel's Hope, which was a night of restoration and healing for those who have lost children in or out of the womb, or who have suffered from infertility.  I shared my testimony. It is a testimony that most of my close friends know, but there are many people in my life who have never heard it. I kept it a secret for many years and only recently have been public with it. After last night, I felt like it was time to share it with the world. it is:

Thirteen years ago, I had an abortion and I was completely alone. When I saw that pregnancy test, I was scared to death. I was 20. I was attending a Christian college.  It was not ok that I was pregnant. But at the same time, the thought of that baby already growing inside me brought me unbelievable joy. I remember actually forcing myself to stop smiling before I went in to tell my boyfriend the news. When I walked in, he was sitting there with the phone book open to Planned Parenthood. 
“You can’t have this baby,” he said. “It will ruin my future,” he said. 

 Those words have haunted me for years. They are disgusting and unbelievable. But at the same time, today they are almost laughable. Why would I allow someone to say that to me? Why would I hear these words coming from this immature boys’ mouth, and think, “Man, I don’t wanna lose this guy, so I better do what he says?” Since that time I have thought of countless, usually inappropriate, responses to his words. I have pictured myself throwing something in his face, stomping out of his apartment, and taking the train home, to carry and raise that baby by myself. I have replayed over and over again in my head how things could have gone so differently that day. How I could have stood up for myself and done what was right. How I could have told someone- just one person about my pregnancy and I probably would have made a different choice.  I am overwhelmed with how immature and stupid I was. How blind I was. I was convinced I had no choice.  I couldn’t tell anyone. I was ashamed I was pregnant. I was ashamed I had been sleeping with my boyfriend. I was ashamed I was considering abortion. My life was filled with shame. 
There seemed to be no escape. And this boy acted like this was the easiest, simplest and most obvious choice on the planet. He even called Planned Parenthood for me as I sat there sobbing on the bed. He would have made the appointment for me too, but the lady on the phone said I had to do it. So there I sat, sobbing into the phone. And she let me make the appointment. She didn’t ask if this was what I really wanted. She didn’t suggest I call back after I calmed down. Nope. I was sobbing so uncontrollably that  I could barely speak, but she scheduled an appointment. And I went. It seems so obvious now. Just don’t go. But in that moment. I was 20, I was “in love,” I was scared, I was alone. 
People often wonder, “How can someone be so hateful and heartless to make a decision to kill your own baby?” I don’t tell this story so people will feel bad for me. I tell it so people might be able to see why someone would make this decision. No one should. But it’s easy for me to understand how a young, lonely, desperate, and scared girl can make that decision. Someone makes that decision when there is no hope. I would go back and do it differently if I could. But it’s done. And when it was done, a piece of me died. I have been missing a piece of me since that day. My boyfriend didn’t want to talk about it. He told me to move on. I held it in. I told no one. I immediately became depressed, filled with suicidal thoughts, and eventually had a severe panic attack. But still I kept silent. I became a very good actress. I could fake a smile like nobody’s business. I had been living with my roommate, Gwyn, for the previous two years. I told her everything. But I couldn’t tell her this. I was so afraid people would judge me and hate me for what I did. I hated me for what I did. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to ever be forgiven. I killed my baby.  I didn’t deserve to live. So I went on pretending. Going through the motions and crying myself to sleep every night. My life went on like this for another 2 or 3 years until finally, one night I revealed it to Gwyn, who obviously didn’t judge me or hate me, but supported me and loved me. 
 Over those years of secrecy, and in the few years following, when I started opening up to a few people, I began learning about grace. Growing up in the church, I thought I knew what grace was, but I had no idea. I didn’t want God to forgive me for what I had done. I never wanted to stop torturing myself with thoughts of what happened. But a wise woman said to me that if I don’t accept God’s forgiveness and grace, that’s like saying Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t enough. Is that what I was saying? God’s sacrifice on the cross, his grace and mercy being poured out for this broken, sinful world, wasn’t enough to take away MY  sin? It took years to sink in, but now I know that when Jesus hung there on that cross, with the sins of the world bearing down on his perfect soul, he saw me. He saw my face. He saw me lying in that abortion clinic. 2000 years ago He knew what I was going to do. And He gave His life for me anyway. He took the punishment for my sin. THAT particular sin, as well as all the others. When He died, and when my heart broke because of my own sin, I was forgiven. I was set free. That is exactly why Jesus died on the cross, because we were all going to do things that are completely unforgivable. We are all guilty. But God doesn’t want me to live a life filled with guilt. He wants me to live a life filled with joy. And now, when I think about my baby, my heart misses her and my arms long for her, but I know I am forgiven. I can live my life. I can forgive myself. I have forgiven myself. And I have accepted God’s forgiveness. And I have peace and hope, knowing, in the next life, when I get to my real home, I will see her again. 

 A decade after that first story, my life was totally different. I got a family, I grew tremendously in my faith, I helped to plant a church, I became a church leader. And finally I could talk about my first baby, Lucille. It is no longer a secret. Now it is my testimony, and I praise God for that. But then, 3 years ago, after adopting three kids and giving birth to one, I became pregnant again.  When the signs starting pointing toward miscarriage, I begged God not to take this baby from me. I have already suffered so much at my own hands, I have already dealt with the grief of losing a child. Please, please do not let this happen. I could not possibly handle the death of another child. I sincerely believed I could not do it. I was a strong believer, but losing Lucille was the hardest thing I had ever gone through and I barely made it. I could not imagine trying to do that again. But it happened.  I lost the baby. And, Praise be to God, this time I was in a very different place. I was the opposite of alone. This time, instead of a stupid immature boyfriend, I had a wise, loving, godly husband. I had an unbelievably supportive church family. I remember my mom was out of town when it happened, but Brandy and Ty showed up at my house. I don’t think they said much at all. They know there are no words of comfort at times like that. But we sat in my living room and we sang.... 

 If my heart is overwhelmed 
And I cannot hear Your voice
I’ll hold on to what is true 
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come 
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith, I will believe
I'll remind myself Of all that You've done
And the life I have Because of Your son
Love came down and rescued me 
Love came down and set me free
Mountain high or valley low, 
I sing out and remind my soul
 that I am Yours,
I am forever Yours

 The Sunday after I miscarried, it was my turn to lead worship. My first thought was no way. I can’t even get out of bed, how can I lead worship? But then I saw the song list that our worship leader sent out. On it was Desert Song, by Hillsong. I knew at that moment God was telling me to do it.  If you know the backstory to that song, you’ll know why. A few days before that song was supposed to be recorded, Jill McCloghry, the woman who sings it on the album, went into labor and had her baby at 23 weeks old. She and her husband spent a day with their baby before he died. She could have easily said she could not make that record, she was grieving the death of her child. But she chose to sing, she chose to worship, because no matter what happens in our lives, God is always worthy of worship. I knew I had to, too. And that Sunday, I worshiped more freely than I think I ever had before. I just knew the truth of the words I was singing. And I had to rely on God for every breath, every word and sound that came out of my mouth that morning. My heart was so broken, but I was so sure that God was still with me through it. I sang, 

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

And I knew it was true. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

road trip part six: the ozarks!

The delay in Florida gave us a choice to make. We could push through and make it to Wichita by Sunday night as originally planned, OR we could take our time and spend a night in the Ozark Mountains, getting us home Monday night instead. We figured missing another day of work & school would be worth a night in the mountains, so we looked online for somewhere along our route to spend Sunday night. I almost immediately found a cheap log cabin in the middle of the Aransas Ozarks, in a town called Jasper. We called up, thinking there was no way this amazing find would be available- but it was!
So Saturday we left Florida, drove through Alabama, Mississippi, and ended up in Memphis, TN, where we spent the night at Francis & Fred's house (my mom's cousins). We didn't have many adventures Saturday, but it was nice to have a home to stay in instead of a hotel. We got up early Sunday morning, drove for a while through Arkansas, and stopped outside of Little Rock, where we found a church to attend.

After that we had some more beautiful adventures!
We took scenic byway 7 into the mountains and stopped a lot to look around.

One of the routes Google told us to use was to go through this road...which was covered with swiftly rushing water. Jared scared the kids by telling them we were going to try to attempt it.
We spent much of the afternoon taking a 2 mile hike. 2 miles is a lot with 3 kids, a toddler, & a baby, but it was worth it.

After hiking a bit we came across this sign:

Yes, Jared is holding the baby next to that cliff.

After our hike, we drove to Jasper, grabbed some food and headed to the cabin. Here it is!

It was huge with a big library/playroom for the kids!

And there was a little hot tub in the master bathroom
The master bedroom. Before I could walk into it, I had Seth stuff the Elkskin rug under the bed.
I couldn't do anything about these little friends, though.

We hung around the cabin until we had to check out at 10, then we drove around the Ozarks some more, and eventually had to get back to reality and head to Wichita. Here is what we saw on our way home!

We made it back Monday night around 11:30, exhausted, but completely blessed and blown away by the generosity & hospitality of everyone that helped us along our trip. We never imagined how wonderful and memorable this trip would be. We are so thankful to our families and to God for allowing it all to go smoothly & safely, and for giving us such a fun vacation.
And our Gank-a-van didn't break down once!! Praise God!!