Thursday, December 31, 2015

In the Interest of Others



I am under a gag order right now. I cannot blog about what I have spent three solid days doing to help a pregnant mom because until she is safely in her maternity home, we cannot risk her being identified. It is KILLING me. Her story is an academy award winning movie. And I can't tell it. Not yet.

I always remove identifying info, but we wanted to be really cautious with this case because the girl involved is a HERO. Due to circumstances I cannot divulge, I have been asked to keep this incredible story to myself. We will do nothing to jeopardize her successful placement in a safe facility that will help her.

I have wrapped three roles of heavy duty duct tape around my mouth, and nailed my typing hand to the wall. Still I managed to reach my keyboard and almost successfully squealed.......

But I can't.

"Is the most fantastic blog you ever wrote with the potential for viral circulation worth the life of this brave girl?" God asked.

I pondered. A beat too long.

"No, Lord....I guess not."

"You are learning."

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I have to give a shout out to a special friend who helped financially. I won't post her name, but she knows who she is. She gave a MASSIVE sum of money to me, telling me to use it "as God leads you." It was incredibly timely, as in the past three days I have had to spend a good chunk of money while finances are pretty tight to help the girl we are working with. It would have been much more difficult without that generous check.

Thank you dear friends. I absolutely could not do what I do without a whole team of supporters and friends.
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Philippians 2:4 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Overcoming Darkness

This little smiley face is a week-and-2-day-old baby. He is smiling because he is alive. Cities4Life counselors spoke with his mama, and talked her out of aborting him. Then they supported her in every way they could throughout his gestation.

I was walking in the rain yesterday when I received the text from the mama with her smiling son's photo. Her pride was unmistakable. Such a young baby to be smiling. He is clearly a prodigy. Life is not easy for this mama, but she is so grateful she doesn't have the deep despair of killing her own child to add to her struggles. In fact, that very child is the source of her vigor in bettering her life now.

I read a horrific article in the local paper today about a woman who killed her 6-month old baby. She is a drug addict, and abused by the man in her life as well. I was sickened by the description of her home, her injuries, her life-style. Her two other young children, seized by social services, were found naked but unharmed, living in a filthy apartment filled with human and animal excrement. My heart cries out for that little baby, and those children. I despair that many will read such terrible news and decide abortion is justified when this is the life that awaits some of the babies saved through pro-life ministries.

No. 

Much as I grieve that this is the reality for so many children, I cannot condone a greater evil to put a band-aid on a lesser. I can't begin to know how to solve the problems of addictions, poverty, and blatant disregard for life. But I know it can't be solved by marginalizing the sacred value of little humans, and treating life as though it were an expendible commodity. The best I can do is use the resources, time, love, and energy that I have to help as many people as I can in similar situations. Because something is overwhelming should not be an excuse for inaction, or worse, condoning and ignoring the destruction of innocent human life.

This morning, I head out to the sidewalks of the busiest abortion center in Charlotte. I never know what will happen there, but God is always present. I often see miracles in the midst of the sorrow. The vision of this smiling baby will be with me and remind me that even this terrible darkness can, and should, be pierced.
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charlotte.cities4life.org
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John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Same Truth from Different Sides



My dad and I solved a little mystery. Dad insisted he had sent an e-mail to me with two specific lines he remembered clearly writing. I insisted I had never received it because I would have remembered both those lines. We both thought the other was crazy or at best, forgetful.

This went back and forth a few days, with my dad scouring his e-mails to find the one he knew he'd sent. He couldn't find it. I reread my e-mails from him. Nope. Never sent it, at least not to me. He poured over all his sent mail. He could not find it. That's because you never sent it, I suggested.

Then I got his Christmas card in the mail. The exact two lines he'd mentioned, word for word, shouted from the Christmas card. He had written it, but had not remembered the correct venue by which it was sent. He had sent the message via snail mail, not e-mail.

Strangely, both of us had been certain we were right over conflicting views. Both could NOT be right, and yet both of us WERE.

I paused to ponder this clear message from God.

When one is strongly opinionated (which there is no shortage of in my family,) it is very easy to only see one viewpoint: MINE. When I am convinced I am right, it is hard for me to be diplomatic when the other insists he is right. Truth matters a great deal to me. I am determined not to follow or enable a lie.

Yet, this episode showed me that different sides of the same truth can sometimes look very different.

There are a few sections of the Bible that skeptics say are conflicting. The skeptics insist those conflicts cannot be reconciled, and thus disprove the Bible. Time after time, the apparent conflicts are resolved by additional evidence, such as archaeological finds. The Bible has been proved each time to be true. The seemingly conflicting events have been similarly explained by Biblical scholars.

However, God was not just telling me to use His little object lesson to bolster my confidence in the Bible. I think He was telling me to apply this message to relationships. I am still struggling with how to do that, and in what areas. I just want God to know that I heard Him.
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John 16:13 

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Vision's Appointed Time

What better way to spend Christmas than walking along a beautiful river in 70 degree weather on a bike path that you didn't know had been finished and now extended all the way from a kayak put-in point to a kayak take-out point?

Perfect. Feliz Navidad!

What this means is I put my kayak in the river at a lovely park, run some easy rapids for three miles, where I come to another park, and get off the river. Then I strap my kayak to the little collapsible cart that fits on the back of the kayak, and pull it back to where my car is parked, three miles along the lovely paved bike path. I feel like I have died and gone to heaven.

The last time I walked this path, many months ago, it was paved to just a half mile from the take-out point, the second park three miles down the river from the launch site. I was distraught over this, as I could not figure out how I would be able to do this section of the river without a second person to shuttle me between the two points. The current is very strong in this section, and thus I could not kayak upstream to return to the launch site.

I lamented over this terrible foresight and planning on the part of the trail designers. Why stop a half mile short when the advantages of connecting the trail to two parks made so much sense? I ranted and raved a bit, and was terribly sad that this gorgeous piece of river was denied to me and my beloved kayak. If only the master designer had asked me!

This is what we do to God...at least I do. I see only part of His plan enacted, and I am certain He has not thought it through. Even to my mortal eyes, it is clear that He needs my input or He would know how terribly, even catastrophically He has orchestrated events. If only He would listen to my brilliant ideas, the world would not be in such a terrible mess.

And then, how humbling to discover He knew what He was up to all along. The path He has placed me on will be completed perfectly. One day I will walk it start to finish, and understand. But for now, I only see an unfinished portion which makes little sense to me...and mourn over what I cannot see.

One day, it will be done, and I suspect I will be even happier than when I discovered the bike path connected the two parks. 

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Habakkuk 2:3 

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.




Friday, December 25, 2015

The Word Became Flesh



I received a beautiful text yesterday from the mother of one of the pregnant mamas I work with who chose life over abortion through the efforts of our Cities4Life team. The names are changed to protect privacy.

Rachel's daughter, Mary, was in the abortion center when we spoke at length with Rachel who was waiting outside. She refused our literature, convinced her daughter would not change her mind, but she took my name and number. To everyone's surprise, Mary did leave the abortion center, baby still in her womb, and called me. After intense consultation, and on-going contact, Mary is now solidly in love with her unborn baby. She can't believe she ever considered abortion. Below is the text from Rachel.


Thank you. I'm so glad I talked with you that day because I don't believe in murder of innocent babies, neither does Mary. She has been taught the word of God all her life, but when people lose their way and sin, bad things lead to confusion and bad choices. We know how we should obey God and when we don't, the door is open to the devil. It's up to us to close the door, pray, and be obedient, and God won't fail us like we failed Him.

I could not have said it better.  Merry Christmas.

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John 3:16 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ...

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Being Still


Not only does God often tell me WAIT, He also tells me BE STILL.
God, of all beings, knows those are the two hardest things for a type A, hyperactive personality like me. Nonetheless, that is what He is telling me.

Stand silently before the God of all creation, and TRUST HIM to bring about what I can never accomplish. Watch in awe and wonder as His light warms the most frozen portions of the world and brings healing and hope. The baby is born...eternity awaits. Be still.

Rejoice in the quietness of standing in His presence. Know it is sufficient. Necessary. Perfect.
Be still, and know that I am God.

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Psalm 46:10 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wait on the Lord




The pastor of Christ Central Church of Charlotte called me to ask if I could use some food donations for Christmas dinner for the moms Cities4Life works with who chose life over abortion. I'd never met him, nor heard of his church. What an unexpected blessing! I never turn down a resource! It gave me an opportunity to surprise one of my favorite young mamas with a vanful of food.

I love this lady, "L"! She is doing well.  Her baby, now almost 1 1/2 years old is a joy and delight. Unfortunately, the baby was off with her dad when I arrived, so I didn't get to cuddle with her.

Another ministry donated pajamas for all the mamas we work with. So I came to L, who has become a friend, heavy-laden with goodies. I am simply the conduit of others' generosity, but I get the fun part -- the hugs and the smiles.

 L, like so many of the mamas we work with, had been completely overwhelmed when I met her at the abortion center. Her life was turned upside down with her unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. She had no idea how she could do anything but abort.

One of the things I often tell these young moms in crisis is that God has a plan for us. Sometimes in the midst of that plan, we are in terrible situations that feel never-ending. But they will end. What we are experiencing now will not be forever. We have two calls to action in those times: do not sin in the midst of desperation, and wait on God to reveal the next step.

My theme for this Christmas has been wait on the Lord. Sometimes, we wait a very long time, but while we are waiting, He is preparing us. We don't always know what we are being prepared for, but the glimpses I have been afforded tell me it will be exquisite when the fullness of our expectation arrives.

"Guess what, Miss Vicky?" L said as she hugged me.
"What?"
"I'm going back to school next year. I'm going to get my degree."
I've waited a long time to hear that joyous, hopeful news!

Lamentations 3:25 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dwelling in Safety

It was a mob scene at the abortion center Monday. At one point, we had four women on the pro-life RV, waiting for ultrasounds. My fellow counselor and I both had two of the toughest counseling sessions we have yet endured. Both Anna and I counseled our respective hard cases for two hours each.

The woman I counseled extensively was a college student, and said she wasn't ready for a baby yet. I asked her if that changed the intrinsic value of the baby, or the humanity of the baby. She agreed it did not.
"I don't need a baby now," she said.
"But the baby needs you," I told her.

I asked her what her plans were regarding college/career.
"I want to be a pediatrician."
I raised my eyebrow. "The irony of that doesn't escape you, does it?"
She shook her head.

The friend with her began laughing, and then the mama laughed. She laughed quite a bit at first, but became more somber as I presented the gospel. The father looked at me with unblinking wide eyes, and I think had he been alone, he would have fallen on his knees crying out to Jesus. At first, when I asked if they wanted to accept Jesus as Lord then and there, the young man began to nod. The friend laughed and shook her head, and the young man looked down, and shook his head as well. All three said they would think about it, but were not ready yet.

When the mama saw her baby on the ultrasound, the little guy was waving and kicking, and drawing his clearly delineated fingers to his mouth. At the end of the second trimester, this baby was a little acrobat. The nurse, Sherry, even managed to get an amazing shot of his brain, the two hemispheres clear from the top down angle. I had never seen that before, and was gaping in awe.

A miracle of creation.

"What a wonderful life he has," I said, "So safe and secure dwelling in the womb."
Sherry and I looked at the mother, knowing the womb was not a safe and secure place for this baby.

In the end after two hours of counseling, the mama chose life. As she drove away from the abortion center, both the nurse and I felt utterly spent. Neither of us are confident she will not return. The laughing friend who found all of this to be a source of humor and derision was not helpful.

However, there is nothing more we knew to say or do. The baby is safe for now. May God convict the mama's conflicted heart. Fortunately, the mom Anna counseled seemed more secure in her decision and was driven away from the abortion center by grandparents who are ardently pro-life and would support her throughout the pregnancy. We were overjoyed to hear that another counselor on the sidewalk, Sarah, had also counseled a reluctant mama carside, and that woman had also driven away. Three babies safe...for now. (The other woman we counseled was not pregnant.)

Meanwhile, another mother brought her pregnant daughter on the RV. She told us ten years ago, she was in the back room of the abortion center, about to abort her son. She heard one of our fiery preachers, Flip, all the way in the far back procedure room. His convicting words boomed over the microphone, reaching to the deepest, darkest corners of the abortion center. "God doesn't make mistakes." She got off the operating table, left, and a few months later, gave birth to her son. We told her Flip was the preacher who led Jane Roe of Roe V Wade to the Lord. The woman gave us her name and number. She wanted Flip to know he had saved her son, and she was thankful.

"He died three years ago," she told us, "But he was a blessing...from beginning to end." She brought her daughter to us, remembering we had been there for her so long ago, and grateful we could be there to encourage and help her daughter now.

We must speak. We should not be silent. We never know when the seeds we plant of God's words and commands will comfort, challenge, and convict. So many of us shy from speaking truth for fear we will offend. We probably will offend, but we also might make a difference.

I was awake much of the night last night, picturing and praying for the little baby who we saw so clearly on the ultrasound yesterday.  Be safe, little one.

In peace, I will both lie down and sleep. For you alone, o Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8
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To donate or join us on the sidewalks speaking life to those who desperately need to hear it, please go to charlotte.cities4life.org
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Monday, December 21, 2015

Rejoice in Hope


I really appreciated our pastor's sermon Sunday. He did not talk about all the happy tidings of Christmas. Instead, he talked about the struggle of living in a fallen world, and how the older he gets, the less he approaches Christmas with wide-eyed wonder and delight. He said Christmas celebrates Christ's first advent, but what he longs for more and more is Christ's second advent.

I do too.

When Jesus returns, all will be made right. For now, many of us struggle with mixed emotions. Sorrow and joy mingle. It is sometimes hard to find hope when the sorrows become overwhelming.
The key is trusting not God's provision, but His promises. His provisions may be temporary and not assured. But His promises are eternal, and will never be revoked.

It was a much more apt sermon for me to hear this year than one filled with ho-ho-ho's.

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Psalm 39:7 

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Model for Overcoming Adversity

The week before Christmas I will have held two brand new babies saved from abortion through the ministry of Cities4Life. After church today, I get to hold a new little baby girl. Yesterday, I held a two-day-old baby boy who survived some pretty rough obstacles.

The little guy in the photo above entered the world through one of the most difficult situations we have encountered. Abused mom, medical issues that threatened the mother's life as well as his own, heartless job discrimination that ended in the mom's illegal job termination, drug addicted felon dad, the mom's own mother battling cancer, no money, and no baby supplies.

When we counseled the mom, I had no idea what a long and difficult journey she would be on. All I knew was her heart convicted her that God would not have her destroy innocent human life, her own child, created in the image of God.

When we met her at the abortion center, she was determined to abort. In the end, she was so grateful we were there to urge her NOT to. Nonetheless, the horrific issues she faced should not be minimized. I had never dealt with the issues described above to the degree this brave woman endured. It didn't change the sacred value of her baby's life, but it presented a huge challenge to help her.

As each new catastrophe hit, she called me. I in turn called my cities4life friends, supporters, and fellow counselors and partner organizations. One by one, each issue was tackled and dealt with. Some issues are ongoing, and will be very difficult to solve. But one thing is crystal clear:

This child is loved, and has a purpose that he now has the potential to fulfill.



I have lived long enough to know that life is rarely easy, and often littered with struggle. Terrible things happen to the best of us, even when we do the best we can do and love God. It does not mean God has abandoned us, though it is a natural reaction to assume that is the case. For certain, there are times it feels that way!

One of the women I counseled not to abort just this week is in the midst of a terrible struggle. During this make-or-break time, I am in daily contact. I always send Bible verses. Last night she texted to tell me she was going to read her Bible, and could I recommend what to read that would help her in her situation.

I resisted the urge to say, "ALL of it!" I told her the Psalms are my favorite when I need to be comforted. Ruth is a great book about a woman in very difficult circumstances who overcomes. But the Gospels are the heart of God's message of hope. If we truly understand who Jesus is, who He claimed to be, and how He perfectly fulfilled every prophecy written about Him over thousands of years...then we can understand God's victory. Better yet, we can claim it for ourselves.

If ever there was a frightened, overwhelmed young woman in dire circumstances, it was Mary. Newly pregnant with baby Jesus, unmarried, young, poor, and forced to leave her home on the throes of childbirth. Once Jesus was born, she had to flee her land again under threat of her new baby being murdered by Herod. Imagine all the gossip, the terror, the questions, the despair, the loneliness, the discomfort, and the alienation the poor, unwed, young Mary felt.

How did she manage?

As I reread her story there are some simple truths in Mary's response to her difficult circumstances that we can all mirror.

* She trusted God. She didn't withhold her questions or fears, but she ultimately trusted He was who He claimed to be, and would do what He promised.
* She obeyed Him. She did not try to escape the circumstances through sin that would only further entangle her. She did not lie to make her encounter with God less believable. She simply obeyed, remaining true to the commands God  and her conscience placed before her.
* She took each step as required. The best way to manage any difficulty is to take each step as God dictates. She didn't need to know all the rocks, and mountains, and turns that her path would take her. She only needed to know what to do next, which God always outlined for her.

As I hold each baby born to the women helped by the Cities4Life sidewalk counselors, I always feel like crying. Each time as those tiny fingers grip my thumb, I remember how razor thin was the line that kept them from being killed. Yesterday, the nurse came in as I held the baby. She had to check his vital signs. She let me continue to cradle him in my arms as she listened to his heart.

"Good strong heartbeat," she said, smiling at the new mother.


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Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Enjoy Safe Pasture


I spent a good bit of time exchanging text messages with the mama, N,  who chose life Monday. Her circumstances were dire, and involved an abusive husband, and the rest of her family was homeless. I had been encouraging N with Bible verses and practical suggestions. She asked if I would send Bible verses to her mother, who was homeless, and depressed.

The situation was awful. The mother, who receives disability checks, would be able to afford an apartment, but couldn't cover the security deposit. She wanted to move her pregnant daughter into the apartment, safe from the abusive husband and she would then help care for the baby N had now unequivocally committed NOT to abort.

I was in a quandary. Cities4Life does not ever give cash to the mamas we help, though we meet these needs when we can by direct payment of bills. Housing is an issue with almost every mother we work with and it is impossible for us to provide help in that area with all the mothers we work with. Yet, in this instance, the overwhelming problem was housing...and it could be solved with a security deposit. I asked many questions to determine the scope of the situation.

N's mom would need $500 for the deposit. She was certain she could pay rent with her disability check and her daughter's income. She just needed a break, but it was hopeless, and she didn't know what to do.

I told N's mom not to get her hopes up, and I could make no promises. But I would pray about this, and contact our director. I spent the evening in prayer, wondering what to do. I did not publicize the need, since I had no idea whether it was one Cities4Life could, or even should meet.

The next morning, I was on a run and got a text. A friend wanted to donate to Cities4Life. She wanted to know what would be the best way to do so.

Her donation was $500.

Now, we are still discussing the issue, verifying the mom's ability to secure and continue to pay for the apartment, and determining if this is the best use of Cities4Life resources. However, it sure feels like God is in this, doesn't it?

In the interim, I got a text message with this picture:

This little guy was born in the morning to a mom I have been counseling and helping many months now. Cities4Life supporters have provided many needs for this mom, who had a host of impossible problems. Every one of them was miraculously overcome.

See, God is good. When we delight in the Lord, He does give us the desires of our heart. We may face terrible trials, and lose hope. But God is always there. Always. Don't give up. Enjoy safe pasture. He is there.
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Jeremiah 29:12-14 

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The problem is Not That We Don't Know the Truth

My fellow sidewalk counselor calls me the rainmaker. Whenever I am at the abortion center sidewalk, it rains. Torrential storms. I bring the rain. Check out the deluge of water rushing around my rainboots. That is RAIN, folks.


There were few encounters. I spent nearly the entire (rainy) three hours on the microphone. I missed the wonderful news that one person went on the RV, chose life, and drove away. Yay. One baby saved! The only face to face encounter I had was when Flip (fiery preacher) was on the mic, and a woman came storming over to him.


I hurried over. First of all, I LOVE personal contact, and secondly, I know the men counselors feel most women will respond better to another woman. I am the one in blue, wearing an umbrella hat in the picture above. We are huddled under Flip's umbrella.

This woman quickly told us she was here supporting her friend. She was Catholic and opposed to abortion herself. I quickly handed her our literature and pointed out my name and number.
"Please bring this to your friend," I said.


She was very angry with Flip for speaking from the Bible as it made it "harder on her friend."
Flip didn't love that comment at all.

In a huff, she took the pamphlet, and disappeared into the abortion center. She was clearly angry with our suggestion that friends don't support friends in disastrous choices that defy their moral and spiritual code. That was the last we saw of her. I doubt she ever brought her friend our literature.

Frankly, the Bible makes it harder on ALL of us. We cannot deny the truth, when we have the truth so easily available. We can make excuses for not living as though the truth were clear, but we cannot claim to not know what the God of the Bible says. It is written clearly, in multiple versions, in over 500 languages. The problem is not that we don't know the truth.

It is an inconvenient truth for those at the abortion center. In fact, it is an inconvenient truth everywhere, whenever we sin, because it brings that sin to an uncomfortable light.  Listen to the list of sins in Mark 7: evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. And that is not even a comprehensive list...

Do you know a single person who doesn't commit at least one of these on a regular basis? How about yourself? How about me?

I understand the young woman's concern that Biblical truth made the act of aborting her child "harder on her friend." I also would feel better about myself if I didn't have that list convicting me of the times when I veer from God's clearly designated path.

But it is not hopeless. In fact, recognizing how NOT good we are is the best first step. That hopefully propels us to godly sorrow, repentance, and acceptance of Jesus' propitiation for our sin. However, as long as we maintain we would prefer to live without God, He will continue to oblige.


And that is far harder in the big picture of eternity. We are doing our friends no favors by shielding them from the truth when they are on a path of destruction.

Better that the young woman's friend suffers the conviction of sin before she commits an irreversible act against God. Unfortunately, as far as we know, the friend never brought her our literature, in the misguided desire not to cause upset.



James 4:7 

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

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Victory Belongs to the Lord


It was a gorgeous day yesterday. Didn't feel at all like winter in NC. It was over 70 degrees. I went for a bike ride. Blue cloudless sky. Bright yellow sun. In fact, there have only been two days this week when it has rained. Monday and today....

...and guess what? 

Both those days are when I stand outside for hours as a sidewalk counselor for life at the abortion center. Here is God's little joke: the one Monday I missed, it did NOT rain. Hahahahaha.

It almost never fails. For the past three months, nearly every Monday, it has rained.
However, come rain or come shine, snow, or drought...God is calling and I am heeding.

Thursdays I don't normally go to the sidewalk, but I am filling in for an absent counselor who had another commitment. Since God always works some fascinating miracle, I cannot wait. I wonder what He has in store!

I spent last night texting with a mama who had recently chosen life over abortion,  and was filled with grief and guilt over the choices that led to her predicament. I shared the Gospel, and the truth of God's love and forgiveness, telling her guilt was a great way to understand our need for Jesus. It was strange using text messages to communicate the way to eternal salvation, but one must seize every opportunity! She told me she couldn't remember the last time she had gotten on her knees and cried out to Jesus.

I told her, "Do it!!!! Go to a closet and do it!"
She told me her mother used to pray in the closet. She prayed so loudly that the whole household could hear her.

That was a mother who trusted and knew that the battle was not of flesh and blood. I pray she discovered that victory belongs to the Lord. That vision will be dancing in my head as I call out to the abortion-minded mothers in the pouring rain today.

Proverbs 21:31 

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Opening Our Hearts to Those in Need


The mama who chose life at the final hour Monday at the abortion center yesterday had made a 180 degree turnaround. She is ecstatic, now excited about the baby she almost killed on Monday.

All because a few faithful people stood on the sidewalks and urged her to consider what choosing abortion would mean to her soul, and her moral compass. With God's word as the sword, we fought battle with Satan, and God won. I love it when I get to witness victory. Particularly when I am on the winning side.

While I felt her newfound conviction was genuine, troubles have a way of batting back our best intentions. We sidewalk counselors know that it is critical to offer the vulnerable mom tangible help and resources immediately, with ongoing contact and signs pointing her to God and to the humanity of her baby.

So I offered her a 3-D ultrasound and a baby shower...before I knew for sure I could fill the need. With all the moms I work with, there is no way I can financially provide these things myself. We count on the generosity of a network of supporters. I offered in faith, knowing my friends and Cities4Life supporters love and serve a God who makes the impossible possible.

Within an hour, I had money sent to me for the ultrasound, and another supporter who said she had EVERYTHING for the baby shower.

I was dumbfounded. I wrote back to her immediately for clarification.

"EVERYTHING?"
"YES, EVERYTHING."

Keep in mind, EVERYTHING means all the baby will need for the first two years of life. It is a staggering offer.

When I told the mama, she was bowled over as well. She didn't know how she could wait till the baby shower. She had taken the Bible verses I sent her to heart, and told me she had told people she'd been afraid to tell about the baby, had read her Bible, and now wanted to get right with God again.

And then, as the day closed, another friend sent me the gas money I needed to get the mama to the ultrasound. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Every need answered before the sun set.
********************

Hebrews 13:16 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Speak Lord...I'm Listening





As I drove to the abortion center yesterday morning, to speak on behalf of the babies, I was praying about a difficult personal situation. I said, "Speak Lord. I'm listening." 

I turned on the Christian radio channel, to hear an interview with a family that was going through a very similar situation to my own. Well, my oh my! God was speaking, just as I'd asked.

And then, get this...the woman's name in the broadcast was Vicky! My name! I laughed out loud. Sometimes, God blows me away with His presence. In case I'd missed it, He wanted me to know unequivocally He was speaking to me.

Bolstered by the great advice God had personally delivered, I traveled on to the abortion center. It was another God-bathed day with many conflicted hearts. By the time we were ready to leave, seven women had chosen life for their little babies! As always, there were a few heart-breakers; women we gave our literature to who seemed soft-hearted, but went in the center anyway.

Every member of our team in some way impacted the women who chose life -- with their signs, their words over the sound system, their calling out to the women as they drove by or walked from their car, and with their prayers and encouragement. Our team is a cohesive force for God and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

I spoke at length with one woman who voiced a reason to abort that I had never yet heard: since she might have a boy, how could I insure that police would not shoot her boy? She was furious with the injustice of our country where innocent human life is taken by force.

Get the irony here?

I could not help but jump on that perfect opening she gave me, and asked if she saw the parallel between the injustice she voiced...and the one she was about to perpetrate on the innocent being within her. She paused, and nodded. As far as we know, she did go through with the abortion anyway.

I had given my name and number to another woman, who I will call Leila. I almost had to force it on Leila's mother, who felt bad, but said her daughter was determined to abort. She insisted she would not change her mind, but grudgingly took my contact info.

Our time there came to an end, the RV with the mobile ultrasound unit drove away, and I began the drive home. I was praising God for seven babies saved from death when my phone rang. It was Leila, the one who had insisted she would not change her mind. She had come out of the center and was now following the RV. She wanted our free ultrasound. She might yet abort, but she wanted answers and didn't trust what she had seen in the abortion center.

She followed the RV while I made a few frantic calls to try and get a nurse and schedule an appointment at the HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center. They managed to call in a nurse and get everything set for Leila's ultrasound when she arrived. Sadly, Leila called me again, and said she decided to just head home. She still had a two hour drive.

After what turned into hours of back and forth with pregnancy centers in her hometown, I helped Leila find a center close enough that we hope will do the ultrasound  today. If not, we will try to bring her back to Charlotte.

God's timing was perfect, however. Over the course of all that effort, Leila decided to trust me and spoke at length with me about her situation, her fears, her faith, and her despair in considering abortion. I was able to counsel her for quite some time, sharing the hope and promise of trusting God, and her own conscience. With her list of needs in hand, I passed her on to our nurse, Sherry, who then counseled her regarding medical concerns.

My Monday Cities4Life team worked behind the scenes to set up some of the other pieces Leila will need to help overcome the obstacles she voiced. I spent the afternoon putting together a list of maternity homes she could call for emergency housing. Today, she and I will follow those leads.

As night fell, I sent her some encouraging Bible verses.
She texted back, "Thank you so much. I need all the help I can get at the moment. I'm broken and lost and don't know what direction to go in. I haven't read my bible in months...maybe a year, but I will do so tonight before I go to bed."

Score another one for God. Speak Lord, she's listening.

Finally, to cap the day, I received a text from a mama who chose life a couple of weeks ago. She had just gotten a new ultrasound of her little baby. She sent me the photo.



What a glorious day, filled with blessing after blessing. It began with my cry to God, "Speak Lord. I'm Listening." It ended with my quiet joy that He did...loud and clear...and not only to me.
********************

Romans 10:17 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Take Heart

Have you ever been called upon to do things that are impossible to do?
Jesus did.
Forgive the unforgivable.
Suffer for having done nothing wrong.
Loving so deeply that sacrifice of self is not only possible, but embraced?
Remain silent in the face of your tormentors because a greater good will ensue?
How blessed I am to know and love Christ, who did all this for me.

"That in me you may have peace.
In the world, you will have tribulation,
But take heart; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Unexpected Places God Brings Us

Mid-December and I was bike-riding in t-shirt and shorts! This is why I love North Carolina. I spent the rest of the afternoon washing and waxing the cars. It was the incongruity of the date, and how I spent the day that made it special. Such activity would be no big deal in the middle of the summer. In the middle of winter, it was cataclysmic.

Which made me think about the way God works.

He never works the way one expects. He never brings peace in the way one thinks peace should come, nor in the season of life we think we deserve it. He rarely brings positive growth and change in the ways we pray for. He almost always turns our world turvy-topsy, so we squint one eye, cock our heads, and say, Hmmmmmmm.Why?

And, by the way, He almost never answers Why.

It is not comfortable. It is not what I pray for. It is not how I would run the world. It is almost always a shock how God orchestrates His plan.


Yet, it is always good. That is His promise and I trust Him.

As I biked in the sunshine, I felt hopeful. Sun and exercise have a way of lifting one's mood. While on my bike, two of the mamas I work with texted me. One just had a baby, and told me she was as sweet as could be.

She sent me several photos of the precious child. What a blessing that we had been on the sidewalks of the abortion center that day to encourage her to choose life! I told her, "I am staring at this picture and overcome by what a miracle she is."

"Me too," the mama texted.


The second had used gift cards sent by Cities4Life supporters to buy her children Christmas gifts. She sent me the receipt to show she had indeed used the money for her kids, and she was overflowing with gratitude. It would be the best Christmas the kids had ever had.

I am content, Lord. Life is filled with unexpected bumps and curves, but.... 

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16:6)

***************
Psalm 16
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
 



Saturday, December 12, 2015

When I Am Weak


I have a whole new crop of residents at my nursing home art class. The class had gotten quite large, but the regulars slowly got too feeble or moved on to greener pastures. Most of my class yesterday were newbies.

They all came in with the same mantra: "Oh, I can't draw."
"I can teach anyone to draw," I assured them. I don't have a great deal of confidence in life, but I AM confident about this.

"We'll see about that," one smiling woman said.

The nurse's aide wheeled in a gentleman who looked half asleep. He did not respond to my questions, and looked confused. I lost a little confidence in my proclamation that I could teach anyone to draw. I set out pencils, paper, and pastels. The man in the wheelchair, who I will call Bert, didn't glance at them. He looked straight ahead, as though in a trance.

I had everyone draw basic geometric shapes in the air with full arm movements. Bert didn't follow us, but the rest of the class complied. I assured them that was all they needed to be able to do to draw an angel.

"Ha ha," the smiling woman said, "We'll see about that!"

Step by step, I guided them. I walked around the room to be sure everyone was comfortable with the shapes we were drawing. I ignored Bert, since he looked comatose. He may have been sleeping, in fact.

We were halfway done with the angel, which by now looked like an angel on every person's drawing pad. Then I walked over to Bert. He had followed every single step, and had drawn a recognizable angel. I was flabbergasted.

As I instructed my little class on the details, Bert's expression never changed. He never smiled. He never even looked quite awake, but he drew a very passable angel, down to the detail of feathers on her wings.

Bert reminded me of an important spiritual truth.
"When I am weak, then I am strong."

It is in our weakness, at the end of our selves that we truly know the power of God. If we can do it all on our own, why do we need God? I wonder if God brings us the indignity of the aging process for this very reason. We are not strong. We are not immortal. We are not good. We came from dust, and to dust we will return.

But we ARE created by a loving God in His image, and His greatest desire is to love and draw us to Him. In His power, we can do all things. When we are weak, He takes over.

As the class filed out, the smiling woman thanked me. She was quite proud of her angel. Bert remained at the table, staring blankly ahead. However, as they wheeled him out, he clutched the angel drawing in his hands.
*****************

2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.




Friday, December 11, 2015

When God is Mum


My third book in the Burton's Farm series is out in the ebook version. The print version may not be our for a few days. It should still be available in time for Christmas which was my goal. Yay. Love meeting deadlines, even self-imposed ones. So far, no reviews on this brand new release. What a thrill for one of you to write my first review!

In the past, I was able to quickly get my book in the hands of horse lovers. I belong to many horse groups on Facebook, and many of my friends have developed from those groups. I have always alerted my groups that my new book is out.

Last night, Facebook put me in Facebook detention. For two weeks, I can't share anything with groups. I guess someone in one of the groups complained. I, in turn, complained to Facebook, but they didn't answer.

Several of my Facebook friends hurried to my defense. Here is what one guy said when he shared my book link with his Facebook friends:
For some reason FB is punishing this lady for telling about her book she wrote about a horse. She is a courageous christian and artist who spends her time working with mothers to talk them out of abortions, then helps them find resources to care for the child they chose not to abort. All her books are great testimonies about the power and love of God in people's lives.
This warmed my heart, as the major avenue for me to get my book news out has now been denied me. Many friends shared the book link, and while it won't reach the tens of thousands I was able to reach by sharing with my FB groups, it is a gesture of kindness that soothes my soul.

I feel confident that God wants me to write. He enabled me, gave me the skills and time necessary, and the passion and message that I strongly believe is His message. So why pull the rug out from under me now?

Perhaps He wanted to work a miracle completely without my help. If this book sells at all, we know it is not from anything I did. Perhaps it is to humble me. I can always use some humbling. Perhaps it is because there is a terrible error in the book that I missed, and might destroy my career. Whatever it is, God is mum. 

Has He closed a door or has He asked me to try something as yet I haven't tried? Is it to make me work harder to push the door open, or is it to turn me away from this path altogether?

I am never quite sure how one discerns which it is. Either way about it, it is discouraging. Whichever one it is, try harder or turn away, I must trust God that He is Good, and His plan is best. He may be silent at the moment, but He is never inactive. I must trust Him in the silence. Maybe that is the answer.

But you don't have to be silent! Feel free to share my book link far and wide!
http://www.amazon.com/Gidget----Horse-Didnt-Own-ebook/dp/B0196WUR7S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1449854240&sr=1-1
*****************

Isaiah 43:1-28 

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 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. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. ...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Where God's Love Abides

I received a wonderful text message while traveling home from my folks. One of the mamas that chose life through our counsel on the abortion center sidewalks just had her baby girl! She had promised me she wouldn't have the baby till I came home, but I give her a pass on breaking this promise. The baby, though a week early, is healthy and beautiful.

Then,  Facebook friends responded to my request for another mama I work with, V,  who had no money for Christmas gifts for her kids. One sent her a gift card. Another asked if V might want a sleeper sofa they no longer needed. (V did need another bed in the house!) A third friend sent her a bunch of gift cards, and wrapped gifts! A church offered Christmas PJs for the children of all the moms we work with! I quickly reserved some for all V's children.

Overflowing abundance out of nothing!

V, who has dedicated her life to God, is now turning her life around. This transformation began when she chose not to abort.

Still, life was not easy. She had spent her last bit of extra money for a Christmas tree. She had no money left for gifts for her children but she told me she had faith that God would make a way for her to put gifts under it.

When she received the couch, the gift card, and then the box filled with gifts in the mail, she was overjoyed. Her children would have gifts for Christmas! Then she read the tags on the wrapped gifts, thinking they would specify which child they were for. The gift cards were for her to buy gifts for the kids, but the wrapped presents were for her.

She said she cried. She could not remember the last time she had a gift for her under the Christmas tree. Then she sent me a picture of the Christmas tree and said, "I am the first one to have gifts under the tree this year. Oh Lord, it's a miracle. I cannot wait to be a blessing to someone else one day. I literally cannot wait."

A note from my friend tucked amidst the wrapped gifts shared her own story of difficult struggles that led to many times when she was living hand to mouth. Christmas gifts were out of the question. Many of her hard times mirrored V's struggles. God prompted her to respond to V's need because my friend had walked that path. She knew the sorrow of a Christmas without any way to buy gifts for her children.

The beauty of my friends' couch, cards, and gifts sent to a complete stranger is that V's faith was rewarded. Her decision not to abort, and to put her trust in God has not been easy, but she has often told me how blessings have flowed from that day.


I had sent V a gift card myself. She never received it.  I sent it over a week ago. We sadly texted back and forth that it had either been stolen or lost. Then, while we were texting, there was a knock on V's door. The gift card had been placed by accident in a neighbor's mailbox days ago. He was just now getting around to checking his mail, and gave V the envelope from me.

"LOL," V texted, "Here we are talking about it, and the card shows up!"

God's timing is exquisite. I love V's faith, that God would provide. I love my friends' love and kindness in being used by God for that purpose. I had been feeling a little down, but this outpouring of love, and this expression of faith and trust in God's provision warmed my soul. It was just what I needed!

The world clamors to fill the longing for love by gathering more and more goodies for ourselves. Yet, God's love abides in us when we open our hearts and give to others. It is a great paradox.

When I sent the photo of V's tree, along with her note to my friend who sent the wrapped gifts, my friend said, "Oh thank you, Vicky. Honestly, it made me feel so good, it feels a bit selfish."

A divine paradox. 
 *************

Hebrews 13:16 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?





Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Flying Me Safely Home



 

I have returned from five days with my wacky sister and dear parents in NY. Amy and I had a little time to kill in the airport, so we stopped off at a mock plane and posed as pilots. There are a LOT of controls a pilot must know how to operate. I am glad I am not the one responsible for getting us anywhere safely.

After a harrowing mock landing, we parted ways to our separate cities. I got the lucky brief layover in Detroit. Detroit's airport is the best. It has a psychedelic tunnel connecting concourse A and B that played Christmas music, while flashing wild colored lights. The video of that is below.

video

The real pilot of my plane flew me safely home. I used to be nervous in airplanes, because I wasn't used to all the bumping, the noise of the grinding mechanics lowering the landing gear, the buffeting about by the thick clouds. In the past, when the plane slowed down to prepare for landing, I was sure the engines had just died and in a second, the fateful plummet would begin.

The more I have flown, and emerged safely, the more I have learned to trust the pilot. The less fearful I have become. Yesterday, my heart never even raced out of a normal tempo. The slogan on the plane said, "Your safety is our top priority." My welfare was in the pilot's capable hands.

This is how it is being piloted by God. 

I  have been a Christian for 30 years now. I have seen miracles nearly each day. I have been through some difficult trials, but I am still here, breathing the sweet oxygen God sends each day, and gazing on the first rays of morning sun with which He dispels the cold night.

Inexplicably, in the midst of struggle, God sends peace at the most unexpected moments. The more I dwell in His word, and remember how gently and mercifully He has cared for me in the past, the more I can rest in the future He will bring.

I have learned I can trust him, and my welfare is in capable hands.

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

Psalm 46:10 

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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.

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

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

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