Saturday, December 8, 2018

My Confidence is in the Lord


Hebrews 4:16 


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

When life takes unexpected turns and we face hurdles our tired bones are not quite nimble enough to clear, God always seems to reach out in miraculous ways to assure us He will lend a hand. Sometimes it is through the kindness of friends, the gentleness of a sweet encouragement from strangers, or just someone who listens to the cries of a weary soul. In my life, nearly always, God intervenes by reminding me I have purpose before Him, and if I obey His call, He will confirm the source of my confidence. Him.

I was on the sidewalk of the busiest abortion center in the southeast all but one day this past week with our awesome Cities4Life teams.  I will admit, my heart was heavy with many struggles and as I drove to the place that God has so clearly called me, I wondered how my distracted soul could be of any use. Yesterday, it was very cold and our team was very small. At one point, a couple stood on the porch of the abortion center, clearly conflicted. I called out to them the whole time, offering hope and help, encouragement and pleading. They went to their car and sat in the car a long time. My fellow counselor prayed with me as we asked God to intervene.

We rejoiced as the couple finally drove away. They looked at me, troubled, as they pulled slowly down the street. They stopped as they passed our RV parked on the curb, clearly reading the slogans along the side offering help. Another of our counselors waved to them and they stopped and rolled down the window. I was already on my way over as they had slowed at the RV, bringing a blessing bag of gifts with me. I knew they had chosen not to abort.

As I approached, it was clear this couple did not speak English. The man spoke a little and asked, “How can you help?”

After determining they spoke Russian, I pulled out my phone and accessed Google Translator. In this manner, I managed to share our resources and offer hope and encouragement. At one point, in English, I asked, “Do you believe in God?”

The woman smiled and spoke the only clear sentence in English of her entire interaction with me: We believe in God.


The unedited/unpunctuated screenshot of part of our texts back and forth is pasted above. When I sent the portion of my discussion copied above, I handed her the blessing bag. I pulled out a little handmade baby blanket and told her she had a choice. She could wrap her child one day in this soft beautiful baby blanket, or she could instead abort and the child would be disposed as medical waste in a biohazard bag. Which would she prefer?

Her eyes filled with tears and she nodded as she held the blanket. 
“We will call you,” the man said, touching his wife’s arm. “Thank you so much.”

There were many miraculous interventions by God. First, we did not have a nurse for the mobile ultrasound RV that day. Normally, it would not be there if we didn’t have a nurse to do the ultrasound. However,  due to some miscommunication, the faithful driver didn’t know that and drove the two hour round trip anyway to bring it to the sidewalk. He could have gone home when he realized there was no nurse, but instead, he said he would stand with us on the sidewalk.

It was the HELP Pregnancy Center RV with the large message of HELP written on its side that compelled the distraught couple to stop. If Chris the driver had not been there, they may not have stopped to get the help they needed in their choice for life.

If we had been unable to communicate with the couple, we could not have offered help either. But technology aided me...me... who is about the least technologically savvy person on earth.

And when I was speaking to them via Google Translator, Liz, my fellow counselor made some calls and found a Russian interpreter who would help as needed down the road.  Later I asked other friends for Christian interpreters who might be able to help us and at least five people volunteered.

I have NO confidence that I am able to offer anything to alleviate the difficulties we encounter in women each day on the sidewalk. Lord knows I have no confidence I can even handle the situations I personally face. 

But God is able...and my confidence is in Him.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and all our needs will be satisfied when we trust God’s provision. He is sufficient. I am so humbled and grateful for the ministry of Cities4Life where I am daily reminded of this incredible truth.

To volunteer with this amazing ministry, click here for information.





Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Satan Really Wanted to Destroy This Precious Baby


A year ago, the mother of the baby on the far left, Izzy, met me at the abortion center sidewalk. She was there to abort her child, but God had other plans. She looked at the Cities4Life literature I slipped in to her as she drove into the parking lot. Her heart was convicted and she chose life. She called me, listened intently as I shared the Gospel, asked Jesus to be Lord, and since then, has strived to follow God as best she can.

Recently, she was driving her truck with her boyfriend. Her baby Nazzy was in the car seat in the back seat. The lights on the dashboard flickered, then the truck engine stalled. Izzy noticed smoke oozing out from under the hood. As they pulled to the side of the road, the smoke intensified, followed by flames! Fortunately, it was a quiet back road. Smoke and fire billowed in impressive plumes. Despite the obvious explosive danger of that truck now in flames, Izzy frantically wrenched open the door, pulled little Nazzy’s car seat from the base, and sprinted with the baby away from the truck. Across the field from the truck, she photographed the burning vehicle while her boyfriend ran to summon help.




Later, Izzy sent me another picture. The truck was totaled but she asked her boyfriend to see if any items were salvageable. In particular, she wanted him to see if her daughter’s few things in the truck and a special notebook had been spared. Sadly, the fire had engulfed everything but the notebook. The notebook did not have a single charred mark upon it. It was a notebook where she recorded special Bible verses and her musings about what God was doing in her life.

The fire that consumed everything else in the truck left the notebook with the word of God untouched.




The truck is destroyed, but this faithful little family is safe. The mother who once thought she desired to take the life of her unborn baby now risked her life to save her. Satan has repeatedly tried to destroy this precious little baby, but God has other plans. 

I seem to never face smooth, quiet stretches in life. There is always something on the verge of exploding. Maybe you can relate. Izzy’s story is one of God’s providence and Hope, and inspires me.

Cling to your loved ones, flee from evil, and summon help from the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:29 


Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

Isaiah 43:2 


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.





Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Is Your Faith Real?


One of the moms I work with just discovered there may be problems with her unborn baby. This particular mom tried to abort that baby multiple times, but God always miraculously intervened, often using Cities4Life counselors to promote His message. When I received the text that her baby had tests that indicated potential severe problems, I worried. The mother had come to faith after we shared the Gospel with her. However, given how she had tried so hard to abort in the past, would her new faith sustain her choice for life?

She texted me while I am in the desert visiting my folks. I have spotty cell phone reception and brief time with my folks, so could not return the call. What would she do with this worriesome news?

She said it doesn’t matter.  She will love her baby no matter what! This is exactly what God would have us do and the basis of faith. If you cannot trust God in the struggles in life, is your faith real? Here is one of my favorite verses about that in tribute to that wonderful, brave mama!

Habakkuk 3:17-19 


Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. 





Monday, November 26, 2018

A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small




One of our wonderful Cities4Life sidewalk counselors stood shivering beside me in the cold damp day, facing the abortion center. The sun peeked out momentarily and then disappeared behind the rain clouds again.

“It was here for one hot moment, and then gone!” Courtney said. She told me that in the summer, being on the sidewalk counseling women to choose life had been a comparative breeze. As winter rains and chills hit, she said she asked herself, “What were you thinking???” She said this in jest. She is one of our strong team members and very committed to being there each week. 

However, as demonstrated in the photo at the top of this blog, it took me two cups of tea, a blanket, and a couple of hours to warm up after our morning on the sidewalk. One woman chose life and there were very few abortions for a Monday. That was all encouraging, but winters are not easy on our teams.

The day before, Sunday, our pastor had preached a fabulous message about trusting God no matter what. I took notes, as I always do. Later that day, I received a text from a mother who has tentatively chosen life over abortion, but she is still struggling. My pastor’s message was perfect to encourage her. I have recorded the texts with her below, hoping it will encourage others who are similarly struggling.

Mama: Haven’t had much time to think.
I did receive your email. 
Thanks.

Vicky: You’re welcome. I know you know that God loves you, that God’s word is clear about the precious life of the child you carry, and that if you trust in him you will find peace.
In fact, that is what our sermon was about today.
It was from Philippians 4 and how PAUL was able to find peace even while in prison. He understood that contentment only follows when we follow God and that no matter what our circumstances are, we can find peace when we are in sync with God.
And without that, we will never find contentment.
Philippians 4:13 is the verse that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“ but in the context of the entire book, ‘we can do all things’ means being able to trust God no matter what our circumstances are. That is where true contentment lives

Mama: Thank you 🙏🏾 

Vicky: As I was listening to the sermon, I knew that it was true because through my breast cancer, despite terrible circumstances, I supernaturally was able to trust God and I found peace in the midst of all that horror.
Trusting God is not easy when our circumstances are hard, but it is the only way to finding life, hope, and peace.
I have been praying that tomorrow you will see your baby’s heartbeat and that will give you the strength you need to follow God. But even if you don’t see the heartbeat, I am praying you will have the strength to follow God.
And I am envisioning His mighty everlasting arms encircling you and leading you and comforting you.

Mama: Thank you. 
This is so hard because I honestly don’t want to be pregnant. 

Vicky: You’re welcome. Please send me the photo of your baby if they find it on the ultrasound. I know it is hard, but I also know it is an enormous gift.
The things that have stayed with me my entire life are when I did the right thing that was sacrificial. Those are the things I am the most proud of...
In the end those are the things that have brought me the most joy.

Mama: So true.

Vicky: I love your heart. I know you texted me because you need reassurance.
I know you can do this through Christ who strengthens you.
And your baby and the witness of this struggle and how you overcame evil to follow God will be the saving of many lives. I have no doubt.
Did you ever read Horton Hears a Who? By Dr. Seuss ?

Mama: I haven’t. 

Vicky: I would encourage you to go online and read it. It is the story of tiny little people who inhabit a tiny little speck of dust and no one can hear them shouting when they were on the brink of destruction. But Horton the elephant hears them and no one believes him. His refrain throughout the book is “a person’s a person no matter how small.“
He finally convinces the world not to destroy the  speck of dust because on it reside little people who no one can see and no one can hear except Horton, but they are of infinite value.
The little people call out, “We are here, we are here, we are here.”
But only Horton can hear them.
Your little baby is calling out to you, “I am here. I am here. I am here.”
He is counting on his mama to hear him.
A person is a person no matter how small.

Mama: 💕

Vicky: Rest in the knowledge that if you follow God, he will empower you to do everything you need to do.

Mama: Thank you , Thank you.

*********

As I sat sipping my hot tea, I read my Bible. I wanted to read about Mary when the angel of the Lord told her she was chosen to carry baby Jesus in her womb. I have read that story thousands of times, but something new leaped out at me. Perhaps it was due to the intense battle the mama in my texts above has been waging. I have spent several days trying to help her see the humanity of her child and how deeply God loves that baby.

Look at this verse:
“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:14-15‬ ‭

Do you see the amazing truth here??? While yet unborn, God filled that baby, John the Baptist, with the Holy Spirit! This speaks so powerfully of how God clearly sees the unborn as precious souls that He loves, He values, and for whom He already has a plan and purpose. 

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

***********


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Why Do We Ignore What We Know is Right?






“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭

Yesterday a car immediately stopped in front of the abortion center. The driver had an appointment to abort in a few days. She said she really didn’t know why she was driving by. She had multiple abortions in her past, one quite recently. She was astounded herself that she was back. She felt compelled to drive by. She agreed to pull over and talk as long as I understood it was just to talk. She would make her own decision and she did not want to be pressured. She just wanted to talk.

As her story unfolded, I felt great sorrow for her. She asked repeatedly why all this terrible stuff was happening to her. Why had she felt compelled to drive by today? Why had she felt so bad after the last abortion, purposely gotten pregnant, and now wanted to abort this one? Why was God doing this?

I asked her if she wanted me to answer, because I felt I had an answer. I told her I was unabashedly pro-life, and loved Jesus and that would frame my answer. She said she wanted to weigh her options. As long as I understood it was her decision, she wanted to hear what I had to say.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know what I had to say. First, it was no accident she had been compelled to drive by and meet me. The amazing irony is she knew me! Before the last abortion she had gotten my name from the Cities4Life  pamphlets we hand out at the abortion center and had called me! She had chosen to abort despite all I had to offer back then, but of course, never told me. I told her God was giving her a clear message, a clear direction. She agreed she knew God was speaking, she knew abortion was wrong, she knew her choices had led her to dreadful places. She agreed that the only times in life when she had felt good about her choices were when they aligned with God.

One would think no more would need to be said. When HELP Pregnancy Center RV and mobile ultrasound technician arrived, we showed her her baby on the ultrasound though she was too early to see much clearly. We told her about the vast array of resources in our network of supporters and partner ministries. I specifically addressed her two major obstacles and before she left sent her an email with the resources to help her.

Still, she said she felt conflict in her heart over what would be best. She was leaning towards a choice for life. Nonetheless, I am not certain at all of what she will do. However, I can think of nothing else we could have offered. Now all we can do is pray.

But as I pondered the interaction, I thought of my own life and how often I had disregarded God and my conscience to do what I wanted to do. Like that woman, I ignored what I knew was the right thing to do and pursued the path I wanted. That attitude ALWAYS led ultimately to despair.

The scourge of abortion is not because people have lost a sense of right and wrong. It is because they don’t care if it is wrong. If it conflicts with self-interest, righteousness is expendable.

This Thanksgiving, my prayer is that all of us would truly understand the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf...that the magnitude of His suffering reflects the absolute abhorrence God feels for our sin, for our rebellion against Him...the depth of His love that yearns for us to return to Him that He would provide such a personally painful way back to Him....

...And that we would be filled with gratitude to Him, the savior of our souls and the only light that will dispel our darkness.

***************
* the woman described in the story is NOT the driver of the car pictured above. That photo was from another day in front of the abortion center.
                   

                                 
Cities4Life

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Turning a Life Around at the Abortion Center

“If you and your Cities4Life team had not been there, my baby would be dead.”—Izzy, mother

Yesterday, several thousand Christians from almost 200 churches in the Charlotte area gathered with Lovelife Charlotte to celebrate life and pray for the end of abortion. I had dashed home from a week out of town caring for my new grandson. I wanted to attend the event and be on the sidewalk with our Cities4Life team in front of the abortion center to offer women tangible help and the hope of God. I was exhausted as it has been twenty years since I have been caring for an infant full time. God has a good reason for ending fertility in the aged.

I am glad that I pushed through my fatigue to be there.

As I arrived on the sidewalk, few others were yet there. The sun was just peeking through the trees. It was frigid. But the worship team for the Lovelife Prayer March was already singing. I was a good distance away from the stage, but I could hear them. As cars carrying abortion-minded women began streaming in, the sounds of praise music to God drifted across the crisp blue sky. One car slowed down at the entrance to the parking lot. The young woman driving the car looked at our small team, then drove on. I don’t know if she ever returned, but I pray that in that moment, God spoke to her and she decided to heed His call to save her precious child.

Later, I was called on stage to hold a beautiful baby girl and stand beside her mother. It was a great and humbling  honor to do so. I had been the one privileged to slip our literature into the hands of the conflicted mother, Izzy, as she drove into the abortion center parking lot a year ago. She read the literature, God spoke to her heart, and she left. Three months later she called me as my name and phone number was on the literature. Cities4Life, Lovelife Charlotte, and countless loving Christians in our network have helped her. She is one of the most grateful women I have ever met, and it is a delight to see her blossoming in her role as a mother and as a child of God.

At the end of the Lovelife Prayer March yesterday, she asked if the pastors there would gather around her. She wished to dedicate her precious child to the Lord. Right there. Next to the abortion center. 

What she had once intended as a place of death transformed now in her heart as the place of life.

And that is my prayer. May this place of death be vanquished and replaced by life. May the promises of God so overwhelm the pressures of the world that women would flock to HIM, not abortion,  and Satan and death would be overcome 
                                   
                                      in their lives, 
                                                              in our city, 

                                                                                in our nation, 

                                                                                                        in our world.

*****************

Genesis 50:20 


As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Romans 8:28 


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 12:11 


For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 10:24 


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Where Am I and Where Am I Going?



I met a woman in the elevator of the Assisted Living Home and asked her how her day was going. She said she wasn’t really sure. I asked her if she was coming to my art class. Again she said she didn’t really know where she was supposed to be. I could tell it disturbed her that she didn’t know where she was or where she was supposed to be going. 

I told her I thought she would enjoy the art class and I was on my way there right now. If she’d like, I would take her there with me. She wasn’t sure about that, but because she wasn’t sure about anything, she agreed. As we approached the art classroom, she looked down the hallway and asked me what was there. I told her some of the residents had rooms along the hallway. She asked if she had a room down there. I told her I did not know but that in all likelihood a nurse would be showing up at some point in the art class and we could ask the nurse. With a troubled look, she followed me into the art classroom. She sat down and repeated that she didn’t know why she was here or what she was supposed to be doing. I told her my name again and that I was going to teach her how to draw a cat today; would that be OK ?

She nodded, a little dubiously, and picked up a pencil. Again she said she didn’t know what she was supposed to do. I told her when the rest of the class arrived, I would teach her step-by-step how to draw a cat. Then I sat down to chat with her while waiting for the others to arrive.

I asked her if she had children. She said she did but she could not remember what they did, how old they were, or where they lived. Again, she grew upset, knowing that she should remember these things. I asked her what her favorite season was and she instantly said, “Autumn” . I agreed with her and we talked about the beauty of the autumn scene just outside the window. There was a tree lit by the sun, shades of orange and yellow and gold. 

The rest of the class began arriving. I went to the front of the room to finish setting up. The woman asked each person as they sat down if she was supposed to be there. Again I returned to her and reassured her that she was indeed supposed to be here and I promised her that she would be able to draw a lovely cat. I figured I would have to guide her even more than I usually do with the elderly residents. The confusion in her expression broke my heart.

I began the class and the woman fell silent, drawing. As I circled around the room checking on everyone’s drawing each step of the way to be sure that no one became lost, I was shocked to see that she had stayed up with me and had drawn very well the steps thus far. She no longer asked anyone why she was there or what she was supposed to be doing. She watched me intently, and drew each shape carefully as I demonstrated on the Art board at the front of the class.

The hour whizzed by as it usually does. Many of the residents reminisced about cats that they had owned. One man told me of a disturbing memory that he had never forgotten of a cruel child in fifth grade throwing a kitten against a tree. He said that that memory still lingered and he couldn’t understand how people could be so cruel even to this day. 

As we drew the tail, I asked if anyone knew what the purpose of a cat’s tail was.
“For balance!”one woman said proudly.
“That’s right,” I said, “So why do you think God designed a Manx cat with no tail?”
Silence from the class.
“Why?”another woman asked.
“I don’t know, but I am sure there is a reason.”
“Amen,” said one of my new art class members.

Class ended and all the residents trickled out clutching their picture of a cat and pumpkins.  As usual, all of them were saying they were surprised that they had done this picture since they had never drawn a cat before. 

The last one to stand up was the woman I had met on the elevator. She had drawn a very beautiful cat. I held it up and said, “Are you surprised that you were able to draw such a beautiful cat?“
“Oh no,“ she said with a big smile, “I drew quite a bit in my childhood.”

She asked if she could keep her picture and I assured her she could. Still smiling, she followed the group out of the room. I heard her ask someone where she was supposed to go now.

I was grateful that for that hour of art class, she had remembered who she was and why she was there and a piece of the joy she had known as a child those many years ago.

***********

Nothing is impossible with God