A letter to my Daughter

My dear daughtera letter to my daughter,

It brings me so much joy to see you walking in the gospel, fighting to hang on to what is true, fighting for time in the Word, for your husband and children, and for your community.  You seek God’s face in all things, never wavering from what is right, almost always with gentleness and respect, and others look to you for wisdom.  You are plainly grateful for the blessings that God has richly bestowed, because you are wise enough to recognize that which moth and rust cannot corrupt. I am not alone in learning from your humility, your thoughtfulness, and your faithfulness in choosing the right over the easy.

It is with a very knowing sadness, then, that I watch you struggle with the issue we ALL face at some point – that of God’s sovereignty.  You cling like a pit bull to the last little bit of illusion of control instead of turning it over to the only One who actually IS sovereign; and I know from experience that this is not only fruitless, but also exhausting.  I know as well that I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but simply reminding you as gently as I can.  Everyone wrestles with this in some area – children, husband, infertility, friendships, job, health, home, dreams, possessions, extended family – and yours is your children.  It is difficult, particularly because you are such a good parent, to realize that their Creator, and not their mom, is responsible for their hearts, their safety, their welfare, their medical care, their happiness, their education, their friendships, and their futures.  Of course you must be diligent and vigilant as a parent, and you are doing an amazing job of stewardship; but I see you grow weary as one who swims against a riptide.  I long to see you rest by swimming with the riptide, knowing that it may take you to shore at a different spot than you would have chosen, but trusting in the One who calms the wind and the waves with a word. You cannot negotiate or bargain with Him, and if you could, what kind of sovereign would He be?  It is hard.  I know.  It’s agonizing, even, to let go; but if you don’t, you are not believing what you say you believe, and you have too much integrity for that.  Think for a minute – what part of their hearts does He not know better than you do?  What part of their thoughts and feelings and emotional needs does He not know better than you?  What part of His purpose for them is not better than your limited dreams for them?

The whole reason I write this is that this struggle between you and your Creator affects every other area of your relationship with Him.   Your growth, your faith, your hunger for the Word, your prayers – everything; which in turn affects your deepest human relationships.  So ironically, your goal to be the very best wife and mother and friend you can possibly be is diminished by the energy that seeps away in your prolonged wrestling with God.  Until you can figuratively pry your fingers off of your children (or whatever it is that you cling to), and rest in God’s purposes for them, you will be less than who you want with all your heart to be for them.  Parenting takes overwhelming effort and energy, but it can be effort that comes from a place of peace and security.

Do not think that I have mastered what I’m telling you, but we must remind each other of what is true; and I hope you love me well enough to do the same.

“I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.  Stand fast in it.”                         I Peter 5:12

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Fara’s Story

faras storyby Fara Avery

Our stories are all threads in a larger story, and you’ve heard a little about how God has woven those stories together, and how He works in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  Would I have chosen to write these chapters of the story in this way?  Never, not in a thousand lifetimes.  Meredith is an amazing person, and even though she could at times make me want to bang my head against the nearest wall, she was hilarious, compassionate, beautiful from the inside, generous, free-spirited, and I would love to have seen what she might do for the kingdom of God with a little more time here on earth.  I miss her so much that sometimes it hurts to breathe.

But there is another question.  Would I change the storyline if I could? My answer has to be “No.”  I would have switched places with her in an instant, but scripture says in the book of Job that I wasn’t there when the cornerstones of the earth were laid and the morning stars sang together.  I don’t hold the oceans in my hand or tell the waves they can come this far and no farther.  I can’t bind the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the cords of Orion or tell lightning where to strike.  Just as the Potter doesn’t ask or need the opinion of the clay, God needs no editor.  It is His story to author, not mine.

He does, however, give us some choices, and I choose to trust God, and to believe that His way, though often painful, is best.  I choose to believe that He is sovereign, and good, to believe His word and His promises and His character.  I choose to do the next thing He asks me to do – whether it is just to get out of bed in the morning, or to speak to you tonight – because Psalm 107:2 says “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story,” and I must tell the story.  I choose to believe that one day everything sad will come untrue, and that all things will be restored, and that He will make all things new.  And I choose to believe that Jesus is my only Hope.

There are no great stories without great battles.  We have studied much scripture which talks about our part in a great war, and God is very clear about our need to be alert, sober-minded, and suited up for battle.  One of the battles in our community is being fought in a little red brick building on the corner of Madison and Church streets, less than 5 miles from where we are sitting.  The people who work in that building are the front line in this war, and WE are their reinforcements, their air cover, and their supply line.  They cannot fight unless we help them, and we cannot fight any other battle if we do not help them fight for the least of these.

I call this ministry the front line for this reason:  we are all created in the image of God and Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared good works for each of us to do.  We all have a specific part to play in the kingdom and in the battle; we can’t play it if we don’t get to be born.  The baby that doesn’t get that chance won’t make someone like me a mother for the first time, or sit in your kindergarten class, or college course, or church pew, or Bible study.  He won’t get to play on your soccer team, or work at your favorite restaurant.  She won’t get to be your child’s best friend, or her basketball teammate.  Neither he nor she will be able to fulfill the role God designed them for, or do their part in the kingdom work, and that leaves a great void.

But God.  God has given us a part in this battle, and working through your faithful obedience in the last year alone, saved 198 babies who will not be part of that void!  He called 39 women to be His children from that little brick building, and also ministered to those wounded ones who once chose abortion and needed the healing only He could give.

Ephesians 2:12 says that Jesus was our Hope when we had no hope.  We know that He is the only Hope for a terrified pregnant girl who may have no support, for grieving parents, for those who have lost jobs, for those in the grip of addiction, for the girl who chose abortion only to find out that she had believed a lie, and for the unborn who cannot speak for themselves.  I said earlier that I have chosen to do the next thing that He asks me to do, and one of the things He has asked us to do is to Be The Hope.  We are to be the hope for this community by pointing people to their only true Hope, and this is how:

  1. Pray for the strength of those who minister, for the protection of their hearts and minds, and that they will be careful to walk closely with God.  Pray for those who come through their door, that they will find comfort, shelter, help, kindness, and Hope.  Pray that their eyes will be opened to the truth, and that they will choose life – physical life for their child, and eternal life for themselves.
  1. GIVE MONTHLY. Make a place in your budget alongside your tithe, your power bill, your grocery bill, your car payment; $5, or $50, or $500 – it doesn’t matter to God.  If you can whip out your checkbook and write a $50,000 check, that’s great, but consistent giving is what God most often uses to sustain His work, and this front line depends on a steady supply of resources so that they can play their crucial part in this battle.  Please give as you are able.

Most of you are here because you already do these things.  Thank you.  You are the faithful servant who stewards his Master’s resources wisely.  Some of you are the ones who give the widow’s mite, while others are the ones who give much because much has been entrusted to them. All of this is of great worth in the sight of God.  Please know that what you are doing matters.  Whether you volunteer an hour of your time every week, or pray for the emails and texts Becky sends out, or give a few dollars a month, or collect baby bottles full of change, you have done something that has eternal significance.  “Let us NOT grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  “Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

If I could, I would bring in all of those 198 babies.  Imagine, for a moment, all of them in this room – the smallest ones sleeping through everything, and the toddlers climbing up in your lap to get to your dessert.  Real babies, not just numbers in a speech or statistics on a page, or even pictures on this beautiful poster.  I couldn’t arrange that, but I can show you a different baby, one saved through the support of a clinic exactly like ABC.  In Florida.  In 1987.  So she’s not a baby anymore, but is a mother herself, and our oldest daughter.  Last June, God added another chapter to her story when we got a phone call from her birthmother; and in December Amelia got to meet her birth family – mother, brother, sister, grandparents, aunt & uncle, and cousins.  I tell this part because I like happy endings, and also so that you can see that no matter how small you think your part may be, you are making a difference across generations, for eternity.

Jesus is our only Hope –please let’s be the hope by pointing people to Him.

 

 

His Grace is Sufficient

Written by a friend of ABC:

I believe God wants me to talk to you all about His Amazing Grace and His Amazing Love that HE has for each of us. And also how God’s Grace and His Love has affected my life; so In order to do that I will have to start back in my growing up years.

And as I am telling you this, there are parts of my life growing up I remember and then there were parts that I had forgotten or had chosen to block out, but with help from counseling and from my Lord, quite a bit of it has been recovered.

FIELD OF DAISY

I grew up in a middle class home with two parents; I was the only child to my mom and the fourth child to my dad. I had the kind of parents that to everyone around us, whether it be friends, coworkers, extended family, etc.; that most people thought a lot of about my parents and how wonderful, kind, do anything for you, kind of people because they were these kind of people to most except with me in my growing up years. Behind closed doors it was a different world, different story, and different parents.

A lot of it had to do with my parents’ relationship. They didn’t have a good marriage but in society to whoever it may be, they wanted to keep an image that everything was wonderful and great between both of them and our home life. They didn’t want anyone one to know the truth what our lives were really like.

So because of their troubled marriage; my parents took what they were going through with each other out on me. They started abusing me when I was very young and part of that abuse was sexual abuse. This started when I was around the age of three years old and continued for a long time. They also allowed others that they knew, including family members, to be a part of this.  And because of the sexual abuse, out of this came miscarriages and pregnancies, which resulted in abortions starting when I was 12 years old. My parents used this as a way to “get rid of the evidence” and as a way to cover up things.

Unfortunately this was a way of life for me for many years and I didn’t know any other. So as I got older, I continued down the same destructive path that I was taught. I went from being the victim to purposefully making destructive, unwise choices on my own and from this having abortions on my own to “get rid of the evidence” and as a way to cover up things so I could keep the image that I was trying to make others believe as well as myself that I was this sweet, innocent, perfect, nice, never did anything wrong, kind of person.

I acted and wanted to believe that my life was good but in reality it was miserable, painful, and so on. I tried using alcohol, sex, and anything else that I thought would fill the void and the empty feelings that I felt inside, including wanting to end my life many times. I didn’t know what to do or know a way out.

I had heard and knew some about the Lord when I was younger and even more as I got older but I still had not fully given my life to Him.  When I was twenty five, a situation happened and because of this I didn’t want to go on. I had hit rock bottom. So one Sunday night after this situation had happened, a couple at the church I was going to at the time, explained to me about a relationship with the Lord and that night I accepted the Lord as my Savior.

Words Are Powerful

by Becky Wood

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  Actually, words can inflict wounds that are more deadly and harder to heal than physical ones.

people hear your words                                 encouragment is oxygen for the souul

Who has not been hurt by a careless remark or thoughtless reply?  If we strike back, the result will be an argument, at least, or the end of the relationship, at worst.  How do we stop the cycle and bring about a good outcome for everyone involved?

By choosing our words carefully, we have the best chance to bring the interchange to a positive conclusion.  Taking a step back, literally if necessary, allows us time to think about what the other person means to us, which can help diffuse the hurt when we remember our positive history together. It could be that the other person needs encouragement because of difficult things they are experiencing, or reassurance that we truly care.

be generous

Rudyard Kipling once said words are “the most powerful drug used by mankind.”   Words can soothe or smother, calm or cut, heal or harm, stimulate or stifle, build or bully, preserve or punish. Life and death are in the power of the tongue!

Let us choose wisely the words we use and remember that sometimes the kindest thing we can say is simply “I love you” then leave it at that.  But what about our attitudes?  Actions speak louder than words, but that is another blog!

failed plans

For additional reading about the power of words in relationships, click any of the links below.  Whatever your belief, words matter.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/darren-hardy/the-power-of-your-words_b_7072410.html

http://learningforward.org/publications/blog-landing/learning-forward-blog/2015/08/10/the-power-of-words-to-spark-positive-change#.VsxfcpwrLIU

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/good-words-on-communication#.VstvZ3-GUvA.email

A note from a patient

Thankfully during the month of January, we get invited to churches to share what God is doing at ABCWC. One particular Sunday, after the service, a couple presented this note to one of our staff. We wanted to share it with you.

a note from a pt blog pic (ask sean before using)
Photo credit Sean Gearhart

“We were approached about speaking at one of your events over a year ago. I declined. That was a mistake and God has reminded us of it almost daily. We were hoping and praying for an opportunity to correct our mistake. We are willing to speak anytime you would give us the privilege to one person or one thousand. We came to ABC with pregnancy suspicions with both of our children. Your clinic helped us so much. We began with no job, no money, no vehicle, no home, addiction problems and worst of all no relationship with Christ. That was four years and eleven months ago. Today, we have two vehicles, two beautiful kids being raised in church, two years until we own our home, a great job working for Christians, and we have Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. We are fee from addiction and slave to the Son. ABC began our journey to here and we thank you. God bless you all.”

Since receiving this note just a few weeks ago, this couple has already shared their story in Eastman at Celebrate Life. We expect many more opportunities will come. If you have a story or know someone who does, we would love to help you share it! We are thankful for the support and prayers of our friends to make it possible to minister to women in our region.

Given A Chance To Live

christina            My name is Christina. My story is really not so unique. There are hundreds of people in the world, especially in the United States, that have very similar stories. My birth parents were 15 years old when they conceived me. She was just a child herself and was very confused and overwhelmed. After a great deal of agonizing over what she was going to do about the pregnancy, she decided that she was not ready to be a mom. Instead of terminating the pregnancy, she chose to allow a couple that was not able to have any more of their own biological children, but wanted more, to adopt me. Through her selfless choice, she gave another mother a chance to share her love with another child. She gave the other family a chance to have a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, etc.

So many people wrongly believe that children who are adopted have a negative view of life. That they somehow feel they were abandoned by their birth parents. This may very well be the case for some, but for the majority like myself, I have always felt very special. I was chosen. I was wanted. I was not a mistake. I was so fortunate to have adoptive parents that decided honesty was the best policy. They did not keep it a secret from me, but instead chose to be upfront from the beginning about my birth parents. For this reason and all the love they gave me, I grew up believing in myself and knowing that I was born for a reason. After receiving Christ as my Savior at age 6, I truly began to understand that God created me for a purpose and had great plans for my life.

If my birth mother had not chosen to give me life, I would not have met the amazing man that I have had the privilege of being married to for the last 25 years. The world would not have been blessed with my two precious children. What she could never have realized was that her one choice would impact so many other people for generations to come. I and my family will be forever grateful for the choice she made.

My hope and prayer is that we will all understand how precious and sacred all life is and that as Christians we have a responsibility to defend it with our actions and words. Please share with anyone and everyone what an amazing sacrifice of love that adoption truly is. If we talked about it in that way maybe more young women would choose to give life rather than to destroy it through abortion.

Wave Lace by Becky Wood

Early mornings are my favorite time at the beach so I usually sit for an hour or two and watch as darkness gives way to light. Sitting on Okaloosa Island, I was mesmerized by the gently rippling waves that washed in front of me. Occasionally, one lapped at my feet, but most were tumbling softly on the hard packed sand in front of me as the tide receded slowly.

beach wave sand 6

Although a couple of early risers strolled by, I had the beach to myself. I marveled as each wave left it’s slight mark in the sand. Wave after wave, emptying itself on this tiny strip of beach, creating a pattern of “wave lace” until footprints destroyed it. I watched as those footprints were washed away and new wave lace was created. Faithfully this process repeated itself until the sun was brightly shining and it was time for me to seek refuge from her rays.

Still the swiftness of the surf to remove footprints and make new wave lace haunted me and I began to consider what message this wave lace held for me.  Certainly, the message of hope that my “footprints” of selfishness are washed away, but at the very same time, something beautiful is being created. This is my hope and faith, that the Creator of the ocean tides washes over me and makes something beautiful of my life.

How can it be? by Becky Wood

How did we get here?

compassA culture gone crazy, without a compass, where good is called evil and evil good….how did we get here? Our nation was founded by and dedicated to God by individuals who were searching for freedom to worship and live according to the Judeo Christian principles which have built kingdoms for centuries. These men and women knew that if these principles were abandoned, the kingdom, or nation in our case, could not stand. There is nothing new under the sun. Any study of history confirms that when the principles of God are considered obsolete, it is just a matter of time before the culture falls into decay and ruin.

We are living this in America today. Earlier this month, a newborn was abandoned at a dumpster in our region, a small town in rural Georgia, smack in the heart of the Bible belt!  When the remains of that baby were found, it had been brutally torn apart and was hardly recognizable.  This is a tragedy in our own back yard!  Yet, this happens every 6 days in our county, every day in our region, and every 25 seconds in our nation…….but we remain silent.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says we are to speak up for those destined to destruction. Sav-A-Life Ministry of Dublin, Inc. has been speaking up for life since 1992, and with the help of the communities we serve, has established a safe place for women caught in unplanned pregnancy.  At ABC Women’s Clinic, women are treated with respect, given evidence based information, and provided with ethical medical care to determine if her pregnancy is viable and explore her options without coercion.

When an individual states that she must have an abortion and it is her only option, she is being coerced by someone or some circumstance. Abortion is not the natural response to pregnancy in a culture that is thriving. Children are a gift and a reward. Clearly a choice for life brings challenges, but the blessings far outweigh the trials!  However, the choice for abortion carries with it the curse of shame, regret, and often destructive lifestyles.

At ABC, we care about the future of our patients and want them to experience the blessings that come with good choices. However, we recognize that each of us has to make our own choices and live with the consequences.  Our job is to help women step back long enough to look at their temporary situation for what it is: a fork in the road. God has graced them with a very specific opportunity to choose blessing or cursing.  We equip, encourage, and empower them to choose. Unfortunately, almost 10 % of our abortion minded/vulnerable patients choose abortion.  But we are there for them when they need another pregnancy test or post abortion counseling.

Women of child bearing age have never known anything but abortion on demand, which makes them doubt their own conscience. Many feel guilty for wanting to have their babies because they have been brainwashed to believe that overpopulation is a problem that will destroy the planet.  This is a lie from hell. God’s first command was to be fruitful and multiply.  We think we know better when and if to have children, how to live our lives, and what to do with our resources. Selfishness rules in humanity without Christ. (Even in Christ, selfishness is a daily struggle!) The problem with selfishness is that the more we have of anything, the more we want. We see this clearly in drug, alcohol, gambling, sex, and work addictions. Sin has pleasure for a season, but the end is death and destruction!

What must we do?

To restore a culture of life, we must rebuild the walls of righteousness in our own homes. Those who call on the name of Christ must be unashamed of the gospel and be willing to lay our lives down for it. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can change a person for good!  But how can a culture come to know Christ if they do not see Him in His people?  We were bought with the priceless blood of Christ and are no longer our own. We are bondservants of our Lord Jesus Christ and it is His glory we seek.  One small candle shines brightly in a dark room.  If you are called by the name of Christ, let your light so shine that men see your good works and glorify God.  As individuals work out their salvation with fear and trembling, the glory of God is revealed and the Light of Christ dispels the darkness.  Together in Christ, we will prevail against the gates of hell, snatching from the fire those who can be saved!

Sunrise Reflections by Becky Wood

Every sunrise carries a promise, for each new day holds opportunities. beckybeachpic

I love sunrises!  And sunrises at the beach are just the best. Recently I had the privilege of spending some time on the emerald coast, the stretch of emerald green waters running from Panama City Beach to Pensacola, Florida. These gulf coast beaches are unlike most beaches I have visited, with calm, clear water rippling, rather than roaring, to the shore. Unless there is a storm, then these placid waters become a surfer’s haven.

Each morning I walked to the beach in the predawn darkness so I would not miss a moment of the sunrise because each one is unique. Some are spectacular, like my second morning when the sky was red for ten minutes before softening to orange and pink then mellowing to yellow as the sun actually peeked over the horizon.  Sitting at the tideline, I watched as the water took on the colors of the sky: red at the horizon where the sun was going to come up and blending to grey at the far horizon. Almost imperceptibly the colors changed to orange to pink to lilac to blue. And with the changes in the sky, the sea was changing colors in response.

Just like the ocean reflects the sky, those around me are reflecting my attitudes and words. Am I encouraging them with words or is my gruff tone making them recoil?  Words are important but even more important are the attitudes of our hearts.  What is your life reflecting today?

The Truth Will Set Us Free

Praise the Lord for the mighty, awesome work He is doing here at ABC Women’s Clinic and in our community. Being involved in this ministry is both an honor and a privilege. It is so exciting to see women receiving the Lord and utilizing our resources to allow Jesus to heal their broken hearts and spirits. Setting captives free is what Jesus’ ministry on earth was all about, and we do this by sharing God’s truth with everyone that walks through our doors.

hands   Are you familiar with the resources available through the clinic? If not, come by and see what we have available. I’m sure that you know 2 to 3 women and men who would greatly benefit from our literature or one of our videos that are truly anointed and powerful for the pulling down of strongholds in people’s lives. God’s word is clear in the book of John verse 8:32, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. That biblical truth is what we are all about.

Having a heart for ministry means loving unconditionally each person you sit with in the consultation room or talk with on the helpline. What does it take to do that? Compassion. Where do we learn compassion? From Jesus. He was the essence of compassion as He died on the cross. So, as we become transformed by the renewing of our minds, we begin to be more Christ-like in our behavior and compassion will flow out of us. John 12:32 tells us that if Jesus is lifted up, then He will draw all people to Himself. That is the most compassionate thing we can do for a hopeless, dying world—point them to Jesus!

A soul that does not intimately know its Creator is perishing. Jesus came to rescue souls that are wasting away and rotting. God has chosen to allow us, His children, to be a part of His rescue mission by being His hands and feet here on earth. Everyone who sows into this ministry through time spent at the clinic, money given to further the work, or prayers for staff, volunteers, and patients, is involved in God’s mission. It is a great responsibility and we take it seriously. We pray you do, too.

If God is prodding you to be more involved, all you need to do is simply trust Him. The blessing you receive for being obedient is indescribable. We serve an amazing God!

Christina Colter

Center Director