Giving Life a Voice

~A guest post by Andrea Bailey, a dear friend in whom Christ shines~

I used to think it was okay to be quiet. In a time where words are excessive and peoples’ lives are laid bare in blogs and social media without caution, only to be consumed—chewed up and spit out– by anyone who has five minutes to read them…and then forgotten. Opinions, reflections, stories—words are in abundance and so prolific that the average person takes very little time to let messages conveyed in media actually stay and sink in.

So I have often thought it pointless to share my thoughts, to give my silence, ‘my experience’ a voice. After all, these things that seem so hard to share publicly, that have taken years to compose, will be consumed and forgotten in a matter of minutes. But even so, in light of all that has happened with the Planned Parenthood videos and conversations surrounding abortion, it is time to speak up—if only for those who cannot speak. It is time to be a voice among many faithful voices and to bear witness of God’s love for those who cannot speak for themselves.

So please, take a minute to hear my voice and reflect on my story. Let these words that I am sharing not be forgotten and may they be one of many choruses that sing the profound love of our Creator for His Creation—for humanity made in the image and likeness of Himself!

A Story of Life

There is no need to go into all the details of my life. Let it be enough to say that my mother was left with a choice—to give life or to take it away—and she chose life. And she was a courageous woman for doing so. Knowing the shame she would have to carry, the comments she would receive, the weight of raising a child alone…it was not as if she chose life and because she made the right choice, life was easy. It wasn’t easy and there was much cost involved. And she carried that choice for life, day in and day out, as she worked and cared for me.

As she raised me, she wasn’t alone. God provided for her needs, surrounded her with loving family who helped her carry some of the weight of raising a child alone. Grandparents, aunts, uncles… all loving me and coming alongside. An aunt and uncle who took me in when she needed support and continued to show love and cherish the life she had given. But her choice to give life still changed her and left a scar…a wound that had healed but that could be seen. And yet she carried it–she made the choice to love me and she lived out that choice each day.

Perhaps it is because of her choice to regard the sacred value of human life, the life of her child, that her legacy of sacrifice and love lives on.

Fast forward to life today. I am consumed with loving and giving care to the six beautiful lives that God has entrusted to me—six beautiful souls whom I love more than I thought was possible.

Three years ago, my husband and I considered being done having more children. A family of six, a perfect balance of boys and girls. Life was full but still within the range of manageable.

And then everything was turned upside down. We heard the words, “She wants you to adopt them….” This question was asked of us regarding the placement of our twins, not children of my own flesh and blood, but children that would become mine in every way.

And we said yes…though be it reluctantly. I knew what we would have to give up. Being an average middle class family, I knew that there likely would not be money enough to give our children the life I had envisioned for them—sports, dance, music, private education. I knew it would demand all of my time to raise twins and that would mean that the other children would struggle, would hurt, would feel alone, because there wouldn’t be enough of me. I worried because I knew there would be brokenness that would permeate the core of our family, and would change us. I knew our choice would limit what we would be able to do…it would be a cost that we would all bear. There would be stress that would threaten to unravel the cords of our marriage, of our family.

And yet, all I could think of when I heard the question, was my own mother…a woman who chose life in the midst of what it would cost. The woman who chose burden and limitations and a giving up of her own freedom.

And I considered the beautiful young woman before me who had courageously chosen life in the face of unrelenting hardship. A woman who had every reason to end life but chose to give life. And in sacrificial love, asked us to give welcome and a home to the beautiful lives she had carried into this world.

I am reminded every time I look at the six beautiful children that God has given to us, that this life is not about fulfilling our dreams or realizing every hope we have for those we love; rather, it is about giving welcome and care and love for those who need a place to rest and find shelter. It is about giving out of what we have been given.

Christian brothers and sisters, it is not my place to give prescriptive plans for your lives, but PLEASE consider and do not forget those who are discarded, dismembered and cast aside. Please ask, “What can I do to help women who feel they have no choice, to choose life?” DO NOT be tempted to consider what you will give up or how you will survive because God’s mercies are abundant and will be with you in all that you face.

And be ready, because as you love and care for those who are forgotten, you will face hardship and it will change you and it will leave a scar that can be seen. And you will bend under the weight as you are changed, refined, exposed. But God’s mercies are lavishly given.

I have been asked when grieving all that we have had to let go of, “But didn’t you know going into this that this would happen?” I guess I knew that it would require a great letting go of my dreams for our family as I knew it…but not to this degree.

And even so I can say, that in those darkest moments of grief and loss, I don’t ever have to question if we did the right thing. I know our choice to come alongside a woman who chose to give life is close to the heart of God and He tenderly loves her and the children she gave life to.

I have never doubted God’s presence with us in this journey though hardship has left us grasping and questioning with expectant hope. I have always seen God’s mercies poured out to us, when I thought this would break us. And finally, I have seen God’s deep care and love for our children—a love that exceeds my own. A love that is fitting them for eternity and teaching them to order their lives accordingly and love life. And I pray that their lives would continue in this legacy of giving life a voice.

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry and he will say, “Here I am.” If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail…                               -Isaiah 58: 6-11

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Out of Nowhere

I stuffed green beans into the hot jars as the sky grew black.  I had just picked those beans, squinting into the over-bright sky through the dense leaves, my eyes trying to sift through the shapes and find the edible ones, long and slender.  Now the sky was breaking wide open and cracking whips of electricity, and the rain came down as though poured from a bucket.

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It was in the middle of prayer, there laying on my side in bed, all peace and petition, that a rank fear latched onto me.  Like a black blanket being lowered over me, a malignant presence, but this has happened enough times before, and there is always a remedy:  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  The darkness pulled away, but my heart was still disturbed.  I padded across the hallway to check on Henrik.  He was running a low fever, and had refused supper, and sometimes a mother just has to lay her hand on that little belly and feel the life there.

Returning to bed Dustin was awake and wide-eyed.  He’d had a terrifying dream, gunshots firing and his heart was pounding to beat the band.  He’d had his nightmare at the same time I had experienced that dark fear.  We wondered about that as we lay in the moonlight.  We prayed.

It can all come out of nowhere.

One minute sun and clear skies, the next torrents of rain and lighting crashing.  One minute peace, the next a spiritual attack.  In both, there is within this thanksgiving for shelter, for protection.  A sense of being held.

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

                                                                      Psalm 41:10

As the horrors of the Planned Parenthood videos have rocked the nation, I pray for a bit of blindsidedness, a bit of out-of-nowhere, caught-off-guard reality checks for our convenience-worshipping society.  I pray that those who were comfortable in their distance and apathy will be rattled to the core, blind no more.  I pray that there will be no shelter in their excuses, their rationalizations, their loyalty to the sexual revolution’s mantra of sex without consequence.  And I pray that they will say, “I knew it not, but now I do, and can no longer abide it”.  And I pray for God’s mercy upon them and for shelter true and good, the Father and His startling, strong love.

Terrorism There and Here

I carried my sleeping baby upstairs, his warm cheek resting on my shoulder.  My heart was pierced by very sad news.  I looked at his crib, but instead carried him into our bed, tucking him close and warm against me.  I needed him near.

“A friend just got a text message from her brother asking her to shower him and his parish in prayer. He is part of a mission and ISIS has taken over the town they are in today. He said ISIS is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed. But not the parents. The UN has withdrawn and the missionaries are on their own. They are determined to stick it out for the sake of the families – even if it means their own deaths. He is very afraid, has no idea how to even begin ministering to these families who have seen their children martyred. Yet he says he knows God has called him for some reason to be his voice and hands at this place at this time. Even so, he is begging prayers for his courage to live out his vocation in such dire circumstances. And like the children accept martyrdom if he is called to do so.”

Friends of friends, casting a net wide for prayer support yesterday.  I prayed, but it felt more like a groan, the words seemed so achingly small; all that came was “Lord, have mercy” and snatches of coherent petitions.  What do I pray for you, bereaved parents who’ve seen your children murdered in front of you?

“This came this morning… Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from —- ——– who leads —————–. We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.

‘We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our —— team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it’s staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!'”

Dustin and I entwined our arms over sleeping Henrik, praying together for the people being targeted by ISIS, Christians and other faith minorities.  For those working in the regions affected.  Henrik slept on and I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of world he would know in his days.

I prayed too for the terrorists.  It is no small thing to be a murderer of children; how deep the darkness in the soul to be able to do such!  I prayed for eyes opened and hearts of stone turned to flesh.  Though their crimes break my heart, I am also heartbroken for them; they will always be haunted by their violent deeds, and if ever they entertain the idea of disillusionment with their ideology, there will be those small faces before them, there will be that blood, and all of that horror.  There is plenty of motive to keep their hearts hard and their souls darkened.  The light reveals too much.

The news this morning revealed images of bombed sites in Syria.  There are always little children on the periphery, isn’t there?  Surveying these piles of cinderblock rubble?  It is always jarring for me to see them on the edges of aftermath.  I see you, little ones, and I pray for you; this isn’t the world as it should be.

Why is it that children are so often sacrificed on the altars of men?  From ancient times, when babies were burnt to death in sacrifice to Baal, to the Egyptians commanding that all the Hebrew boy babies be killed upon birth, we have seen the most vulnerable among us brutally killed by the most powerful.  WHY?

WHY???

WHY???

But isn’t the worst of it that it happens today, right here, in our modern, first world, United States of America?  In clean, sterile clinics with smiling “nurses” and assuring “doctors”?  (I put them in quotes because they violate their hippocratic oath to “do no harm”).  Children are decapitated, dismembered, here, on our proud and self-righteous soil, thousands, EVERY DAY.  Maybe not for a religious ideology, but often for a far weaker and more anemic one; convenience.  And so our indignation resounds hollow, doesn’t it?  Are we for life, or aren’t we?

People call the ISIS fighters monsters and call the abortionists compassionate.  When will we open our eyes and let the light reveal the horrors on our own soil?  The deliberate and cruel extermination of life most tender?  When will we see?

I pray for the ISIS fighters and the abortionists, and the mothers laying back and spreading their legs for their children to be killed, that eyes would fly open, that hearts would be illumined, and that the tide of blood, the blood of the innocents, would be halted.  Because one man’s, or woman’s, agenda should NEVER mean the death of a child.

 

Horror and Hope on a Sunday Night

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abortion-counselor-caught-on-video-if-baby-is-born-alive-they-do-not-resusc

I held little Henrik and tickled his pajama-ed belly.  His deep dimple appeared in his wide-smiling cheek and I put my fingertip in it.  The hollow that shows up only when he’s full of joy.

And as I rocked him in my arms and walked ’round the rooms of our home, my shoulders shook with deepest sorrow and my eyes poured it right out.  I had just watched the above footage, see, and my soul was pierced, again.

How?  How can I help to end this tide of infanticide?

How can I tell that scared mama whom I don’t know that she carries a gift within her; that arms are aching to bring up her baby, loved, cherished, wanted.  That the inconvenience of carrying to term and giving birth would be eclipsed by the JOY, THE SHOUTING BIG JOY, of life coming crying into the room, whole, new!  If she could see the radiance of the infertile woman’s face as that baby is placed in her ever-longing arms, oh!

Or, mercy, what if when she finally lets herself love that baby moving around inside; what if she knew that at nearly any church there’s a whole bunch of us crazy-affectionate ladies who would help her keep her baby?  Would throw a big old happy baby shower and celebrate life in all its messy glory?  What if?

Because, ladies, we aren’t just pro-life, we’re pro-mamas.  We’re for life-lived-joyfully, women made new, families being supported, and barren arms filled.

For The Love

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I had just put my boat away and changed into dry clothes; another day at the rowing club in Chile.  I’m sure my back was sore, my knuckles bleeding, and that I had a salty crust of sweat and sea water on my face.  It was summer in Chile, and I stood with my fellow rowers in easy companionship until someone mentioned un balde de cachorros (a bucket of puppies).  And there it was; a five-gallon bucket full of lab puppies, sitting in the hot sun, abandoned at the door of our rowing club.

This is an all too common occurrence in Chile and no one was shocked, there were no authorities to appeal to, no local media to descend upon the situation.  I knew none of them could take them home; their parents would just dump them back on the curb.

So…

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This happened.

On the bus ride home, with four puppies in a bucket at my feet, I mentally rehearsed the speech I’d make to my husband.  I am a word smith by trade, but no combination of words seem to soften the blow of “Honey, I have four puppies in this here bucket”.

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The children were thrilled.  They love being a halfway house for street pups.  First we warm them up, then bathe them with flea wash.  Then come the anti-parasite drops, then food and water.  Then we take them to the street pup adoptions downtown and try to find them good homes (new owners being held to a sterilization contract).

Many animals came through our doors…

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Hotel Gingrich quite full.

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This one above I plucked right from the hands of a boy who was viciously abusing him.  I gave that little boy a stern lecture; I’m sure he’s still terrified of the angry gringa who told him off and took away his toy.

Don’t you feel it, that righteous indignation that anyone would be so callous and cruel as to hurt-abandon-kill-torture such a helpless little creature?

Now, look at me, right in the old blue eyeballs a minute…..I want your attention.

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54,559,615.  As of January 23, 2012, that’s how many babies have been killed by abortion since Roe vs. Wade.  (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/shock-estimated-54559615-abortions-since-roe-v.-wade)

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Photo credit:  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/74896762@N00/3167352760/)

They feel it, you know, the pain of dismemberment.  Where is the righteous indignation that a bucket of pups can evoke?  Where is the horror that babies are being chopped up daily, hourly, endlessly?  Why all this compassion for animals and none for these dear ones?

If you have had an abortion, I do not hate you.  I cry for your baby, and I cry for you.  They didn’t tell you that your heart would be dismembered too; that part of you would be carried away without words, out of sight.  That it wouldn’t ever stop hurting.

Please, never do it again.  Please know that God loves you intensely and nothing is beyond forgiveness.  He wants nothing more than to bring you close, forgive you, and heal you.

If you are considering an abortion, please, no.  We would love to adopt your baby and love them as our own.  They’d have three big brothers and one big sister and a mama and papa head-over-heels in love with them.  We know amazing couples who cannot have their own children, who ache to be mommy and daddy.  Your baby is a treasure, your baby is a gift.