Friday, October 19, 2018

Until the Time of Singing

I turned the heat on for the first time this morning. Ragnar, our visitor from Siberia, is thrilled with the arctic blast. I huddled by the heater with a steamy cup of coffee. He told me that the sooner we got out for our run in that frosty morning, the better.

I will be honest, a touch of dread fills me as winter approaches. The older I get, the more challenging the cold becomes for me. I stand for several hours several mornings a week on the sidewalk of the busiest abortion center in the SE. Even moderate cold chills me to the bone. And it is always colder in front of the abortion center. What is happening in that building sends a mind-numbing chill to the entire community...as it should.

Which makes me doubly sad that sometimes we cannot fill the sidewalks with enough volunteers to effectively reach the women with our offers of help and resources, and the love of Christ. It is our city that hosts this horror. It is in our city that dozens of babies die gruesome deaths there everyday. Where are the Christ-followers who have the only message that can truly change this culture of death? Maybe sitting in their nice warm homes...

They are missing out. I received two texts this week with photos of new babies born to moms Cities4Life had helped who chose life over abortion. My favorite: "I can't wait for you to meet him. If you hadn't been there, he wouldn't be here."

I pulled out my heated jacket and heated gloves and recharged the batteries to be ready for the chilly day forecast for today. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing the sequel of my latest series for publication. The series is fiction, but based upon people and events I encounter at the abortion center. It is told through the eyes of a former abortion worker as she comes to know God, forgiveness, and redemption through Christ. On the journey with her is a dog who almost talks her language. I called the dog Bo, surprisingly before my first grandson was conceived...who is named Beau.

Ragnar is excited by the cold, and I am facing it with trepidation. If you are curled up on your warm couch and want to be prepared to read the second book in my new series which might encourage you to be a part of the ministry that helps women choose life, you can find the first book HERE.  While it deals with a very serious subject, it is told with humor and there's a mystery and love story to spice the interest.

Ragnar eyes my heated apparel, and snickers. He, like Bo in my novel, can almost speak English as well. He tells me, "60 degrees is a heat-wave where my ancestors come from." 
"That may be," I reply, "But I don't have a fur coat like you. I have batteries, and the warmth that comes from knowing winter will pass, and the hope that one day babies will be safe in their mothers' wombs again."

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land




Tuesday, October 2, 2018

But Babies Are Dying- A Challenge to Us All


This young man, 23-years-old, spends his days all week pleading for the life of the unborn. He was in ministry school when God caught hold of his heart, and broke it for the plight of the babies whose last moments on earth involved being dismembered and ripped violently from the womb with their own mothers’ consent. Elijah graduated and continued working with Cities4Life, while working two other jobs to pay the bills. Yes, really. Not your average 23-year-old man.

On his rare times off from the sidewalks of the busiest abortion center, he tells me he frets if he knows the Cities4Life teams are short-staffed, or worse, absent. 

“Babies are dying,” he tells me over and over again when I encourage him to take a break.

In the past few months, the police have begun issuing tickets and warnings of imprisonment if we step on the public sidewalk across the driveway to hand our life-saving literature to car drivers as they enter the abortion clinic. Despite the fact that we have shown the officers the Supreme Court cases where it was determined that pro-life groups offering help outside abortion clinics may do so as long as they do not obstruct the forward progress of the car, we were threatened that if we stepped even one step onto the driveway or street, we would be ticketed.

“I cannot let someone drive in who wants our help and do nothing,” Elijah told me, ‘Babies are dying.”

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Elijah was ticketed three times. The driver slowed, rolled down the car window, reached out her hand, and Elijah took one step forward to offer her our literature. (Women have left the abortion center and chosen life sometimes simply by reading the booklet offering hope, help, and truth of human development.) Elijah was immediately ticketed, and threatened with arrest if he did it again. All this while it is perfectly legal for a mother to carry a living human baby in her womb into a building where the child will be dismembered without anesthesia and then put in a biohazard bag to be incinerated as medical waste.

For a decade, we have peacefully gathered on the sidewalks of the abortion center and pleaded for the babies. We offer resources and help. There has never, NOT ONCE, been a single traffic incident as a result of us handing cars our literature as they enter or leave the abortion center. The new rule is supposedly for “safety purposes.”  We know that our presence decreases abortions at this multi-million dollar for profit business. It was their minions who complained about our passing out literature. 

Cities4Life intends to fight this clear violation of our first amendment right. Literature and pamphlets are considered part of “free speech” and it has been settled at the highest levels legislatively that as long as we do not interfere with the forward progress of a vehicle, we may offer our information. We were told that ‘interfere’ is purposely NOT defined in city law so that officers can use discretion. In other words, “interfere” becomes what they want it to be. Our director has sought a meeting with the chief of police repeatedly, to no avail. 

Unfortunately, we are a small ministry, and our limited funds are used to help the women who choose life. Those needs are enormous. Fighting a court case is expensive.

We need help. Last year, 500 babies were saved right there at the abortion center in Charlotte through the efforts of Cities4life teams. This year, that number will likely be matched or exceeded. Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood worker who partners with our ministry to help abortion workers leave the abortion industry, told us that there is a 70% increase in no-shows for abortion when pro-life counselors stand on the sidewalks offering help.

Will you help us? Maybe you are unable to join us on the sidewalk, but if all of you who read this blog contribute $5 or $10 to Cites4life, we have a lawyer who can effectively fight this case. Please go HERE and  in the notes section indicate the donation is to fight the unfair infringement on our first ammendment right to offer information.

“I don’t want to go to jail,” Elijah tells me, “But I won’t stop handing out our information. Babies are dying.”

*********

Proverbs 24:11-12 

  

Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?




Thursday, September 27, 2018

Impossible Redemption


I wanted to kayak yesterday, but then found myself googling “drug addiction Christian treatment centers for pregnant moms in South Carolina”. The first hit was a residential place in Kentucky.  What’s this? Kentucky is not South Carolina. Why did Google bring me here? Right on the heels of that thought: Maybe it was not Google...but God. 

Intrigued, I read the information on their website. They were too good to be true. If only they were local to the mom I had in mind!! I  decided I should call them anyway, knowing they were not likely possible for the local mom with desperate, immediate needs. However, I hoped they might point me to a local facility similar to theirs. 

The blue sky and sound of waves in my heart beckoned. NO. This was more important. The lake would still be there later...the baby or even life of the addicted mom might not...

I punched in their number on my cell phone. After speaking with them about what our ministry, Cities4Life  does and how desperate an immediate need we had, they offered an immediate open bed and program for the mom. I then called the woman who just asked Jesus to be Lord and chose life for her baby after meeting us on the sidewalks of the abortion center two days ago. I spoke with her mother first. Her mother said there is no way her daughter would do that. The mother was worn out, beaten down by failure after failure trying to help her addicted daughter. Nonetheless, she said it did sound like a wonderful facility, and she would try.  She asked her daughter if she would consider this place. This young woman had been in drug addiction for more than a decade, and in the past, refused treatment.

She said YES...she had never known the peace she was feeling since submitting her life to Jesus. She was ready for a new life in all ways. She was so excited that she called them, and would do the admission interview right away. 

It was worth giving up the day of kayaking to hear that!

When they had come aboard the HELP Monroe Pregnancy Center RV with the mobile ultrasound unit parked outside the abortion center, they told us the “pro-choice” people had told them not to trust us, not to listen to us, or to go on our RV to hear our resources or see the baby. “They lie,” they told her, “And never do what they promise.”

This mom has already been offered and received a mentor to walk with her, a list of several treatment/residential options, all of which were called first by the Cities4Life counselor, a baby shower to provide the first two years of all the baby’s needs, and the sharing of the Gospel which resulted in the woman asking Jesus to be Lord and feeling the first peace she has felt in years. The mother and daughter who were shrieking at each other with the mother saying she was done with the daughter when they came aboard the RV, are now actively working together to heal and follow God. They went together to church two nights ago, after meeting us.

Do not grow weary, all ye who labor for the Lord. His mercies are new every morning, and His strength is greatest when we are weakest. Do not believe the lies of the enemy of our souls. Remember that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

***********

1 Peter 5:7-11 


Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Resist Hate



Last night I received a text from a young man who had brought his girlfriend to the abortion center where I minister as a sidewalk counselor for Cities4Life . I was already in bed. I rise long before the sun, and so usually go to bed when the sun sets...or before....

I woke up in the middle of the quiet, dark night and noticed I had missed the text. When I read it, I could not fall back asleep. The young man and his girlfriend had decided they would keep their baby and they wanted to meet with me this weekend. They wanted the help Cities4Life and our partner ministries could provide.

I was so excited that I spent the next few hours in prayer and plotting what resources I would need to pull together for this young couple and how I could best present the glorious truth of the gospel to them. This was on the heels of a call I’d received earlier that day. 

A sixteen-year-old girl had called me. She had considered abortion, but her friend, another pregnant sixteen-year-old girl told her about these people with Cities4Life who told her really cool things about God and offered all kinds of help. So the teen called me saying she wanted to hear what I had to say about God and about any help we could offer. She did not want to kill her baby, despite all the people in her life urging her to do so.

She had a troubled and sorrowful life. She had gotten in all kinds of trouble in school, which she said were efforts to get her mom to pay attention to her. She attempted suicide. She’d been discarded by her boyfriend when he learned she was pregnant. When I talked to her about filling the emptiness in her heart with the glorious presence and love of Jesus, she wanted to submit her life to him immediately.

Already, she has been connected with a mentor, resources, and help. She is on my daily Bible email list. She told me she received the scripture I sent this morning, and she was grateful. She couldn’t wait to meet with her new mentor. This lonely young lady has landed at last in a safe haven.

Today, when I arrived at the abortion center sidewalk, one of the “pro-choice” people swerved at me as she pulled to the side of the road. She gave me the finger, and parked. I glanced at the back of her car.


When she got out of her car, I said, “Good morning. I noticed your bumper sticker. Do you think giving me the finger is resisting hate?”
“Yes,” she said, “You deserve it for screaming at women.”
“For offering them help and resources, you mean... so they don’t feel they have to abort?”
She didn’t answer as she set up under the shade of a tree as her post to usher women in to kill their babies and to tell them we were crazy liars and they should not talk to us.

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

James 4:7
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.




Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dancing in a Hurricane


For three days the wind and rain from the hurricane has swirled around us. The photo is of my yard this early morning. That light is a beacon of hope to me. I will be able to make coffee as the power is still on!  Yesterday, we lost internet, but shockingly, workers arrived at our house and restored it! Our power flickered out once, but then flickered back on, and thus far remains on. I had filled the bathtubs with water, just in case. Just in case of WHAT, I wasn’t sure. However, they quickly drained anyway so I hope that was God’s way of saying that particular precaution was unnecessary.

For the Charlotte region, the worst effects of the storm are predicted to occur today and tomorrow. Because the storm swung South, we are on the most dangerous NE side of the whole mess where the most flooding rains and tornados are. So I am focusing on verses like these:

Luke 8:23-25 


And as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
This is a literal storm we are enduring, but there are many metaphorical storms in life. In the midst of this hurricane, I have counseled two women who chose life over abortion and one who left the abortion industry. In every case, as in my own heart facing the hurricane and facing the struggles and storms of existing, I had the same answer.  Jesus.

The hurricane may end up being devastating to this region. I know already lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed, and thousands are without power. The power of the storm that none of us can stop or control reminds me of the inescapable truth that we are NOT in charge. Why would we not submit to the ONE who Is???

I can no more control the evil of the world than I can divert the path of the hurricane. But I CAN control the evil in my heart when I give my life to Jesus and submit to His will and His plan. He warns us that in this world we will have troubles, but take heart, for He has overcome the world. This world will pass away. A new heaven and a new earth await all those who have ceded their lives to the author of their lives.

Yesterday, I attended a wedding. I am so glad they didn’t postpone the wedding because of the hurricane. Two of our Cities4life counselors went first to the rain-pelted sidewalks of the abortion center, spoke for the unborn in the raging storm, and then came soggy and joyful to the wedding. One woman had chosen life for her baby! The bride herself is a Cities4Life counselor. The groom told me before the wedding that he hoped to rearrange his work schedule such that he could join his new wife on the sidewalks of the abortion center. Music to my ears, louder than the hurricane’s roar!

The wedding was a joyous event and the pastor who officiated reminded us that this wedding was a reminder of the wedding of the lamb, spoken of in Revelation:

Revelation 19:6-9 


Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

It was a glorious reminder as the hurricane pelted rain on the church that we, the church, are the Bride of Jesus. We are to enter into an eternal covenant relationship with almighty God and nothing will separate us from His love. And then we all gathered at the reception and danced. I love that image that remains in my head, dancing in the midst of a hurricane.

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

Trust Me, God Said To My Disbelief





I was on my way to Richmond Wednesday to see my first grand-baby for the first time when I noticed a billboard with the big letters of an unusual name in the middle of it. I instantly voice-texted one of the moms, G, that I work with who chose life over abortion. It was the name she was going to give her baby if it was a boy. To preserve her privacy, I won’t share the name but I had NEVER seen that name before. And there it was...on a billboard.

I texted her because she had scheduled the abortion twice already. I knew she was struggling in her choice for life for the baby. She had asked Jesus to be Lord when I first shared the Gospel with her, and I felt that would seal the deal...but it had not. Her spirit was willing but her flesh was weak. When I knew she was wavering the second time, I traveled 3-hours round trip to take her to lunch. Our discussion helped her turn back to God and she canceled the second abortion appointment.

Then she rescheduled and drove to Charlotte for a third appointment! I went out to the abortion center waiting for her. She never showed up. Later she texted that she was doing great, and I thought the crisis had passed.

Back to my drive to see my grandson. 

I told her in the text that I saw her baby’s name on a billboard. I felt certain God was sending a message of encouragement to her, and to me. She asked where I had seen it. I told her. Then she was silent. I sent a few verses, as I had been doing all week, reminding her to trust God to keep her strong. She did not respond.

Right after that, I got a message from our Cities4Life team at the abortion center. She was back...for her fourth appointment...to abort. She would not stop and speak with them. Daniel, the Cities4Life director, told me he felt I would want to know. I texted her for an hour. She did respond once saying she loved me and she was sorry, but she just could not have this baby. Then...silence.

I cried and prayed. Then I heard a voice. Not an audible voice, but clear in my spirit: trust me.

I asked God if that was Him speaking or just my hopeful heart. And how could I trust Him when I knew she had gone in to abort? Just in case it WAS God, I answered out loud, “Ok. I will trust you...but it is hard.”

For the entire five-hour drive, I prayed. Daniel told me that by the time he left the abortion center sidewalk, she had not come out. She had not responded to my texts after that first one. I continued to text the rest of that evening and then all day Thursday as well. I tried not to think of the baby our team had fought so hard to save. 

This early morning, as I rode my bike along the James river, I remembered a fellow Cities4Life counselor once telling me, “We can’t want it more than them.”

My response was, “Sometimes at first, we have to want it more than them...or the baby will die.”  Those words came back to me as I tried to shove the despair aside and focus on the miracle and joy of my first grand-baby. 

When I first arrived in Richmond Wednesday, I told the other grandparents the woeful story and they instantly prayed with me. I did not share the story with my son and his wife. The despair I felt would be mine alone to struggle with. They needed to focus on only the joy of their precious new child.

I continued to text G over the next two days. She never responded. In case she took the pill, I texted info on how to reverse it, and then I sent many verses pleading with her to confront herself over what she had done, and that she had to decide if she would trust and follow Jesus, or trust and follow her own path that had led to such a sad place. I admit I felt like a failure, and very very sad for the baby. I also grieved deeply for her. Her prayer of faith had seemed so genuine, but was Jesus really Lord of her life if she could so quickly disregard His commands? 

Last night, I had a very strange dream. I was at the abortion center, and there was a water leak on the sidewalk. Suddenly, it began spurting and soaked all of us counselors. However, what began as a disaster slowly transformed to a fountain and it was inexplicably good, like a baptism. I felt like God was telling me He could take very terrible things and turn them to good. Trust Him.

Later this morning I was on a walk, when I received a text from a fellow Cities4Life counselor, Elijah.
“G just came out of the abortion center. She didn’t do it. She told me she has tried five times, and just couldn’t do it. She is on the RV now getting an ultrasound. She said she just needed to see her baby.” 

I may have heard God say, “See?” But I was spinning and shouting so loudly that I wasn’t certain.

G called me as she left the RV. She told me she had scheduled the abortion five times, and always something happened that prevented her from doing it. When I had texted her about the billboard with the baby’s name on it, she said she thought about it. Was God talking to her?
“Are you never returning now?” I asked. “Are you done now?”
“Never returning. I am done. I am keeping this baby. I think God is telling me so many times and I am listening now.”

********

Romans 15:13   


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Psalm 9:10 

  

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Mark 5:36 


But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Grand Child Is Born


This is my grandson. My first grandchild. Beau. I sit with him, holding him, unable to take my eyes off of him. A miracle. The new parents are going through what all new parents go through. Elation. Exhaustion. Worry. Joy. I’d love to be able to remove all the anxiety and overwhelming fatigue, but the hardest hours are theirs alone to bear.

Grandmoms just get the joy.

But I remember. I remember never eating a hot meal for years as the babies always knew when to disrupt my life for maximum effect. Never getting enough sleep. Never laying aside the fears of what might harm my precious child. Never feeling up to the task. Loving so deeply that I would for the first time in my life sacrifice myself for that little brand new being.

So I sit here now with the sweet memory of his little head resting on the crook of my arm. Then, the picture of my own dear son, gathering Beau into his arms, kissing him as he carries him up the stairs to his wife for another sleepless night. 

Lord bless them and keep them. In their bleary-eyed ministrations through the night, they don’t know that the most precious moments of existence are ticking slowly by as guardian angels gather near watching with breathless wonder.

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

Luke 1:14 


And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,