#GetOutoftheField: Abortion

With the Planned Parenthood controversy that recently came to light by way of the Center for Medical Progress, I thought I would kick the series off talking abortion. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, it’s estimated that there have been over 57 million abortions in the United States (National Right to Life), and that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime (1 in 3 Campaign).

If we’ve seen more than 57 million abortions since 1973, and 1 in 3 women will have an abortion, this means you and I have friends, sisters, aunts, cousins who have had and will have abortions, even women who regularly attend church and profess to know Christ.

Why? Why would my friend/sister/aunt/cousin have an abortion, especially one who professes to know Christ?

As a society, we’ve made abortion an issue of empowerment. For centuries, men have been able to sleep around, and have not borne the consequences in their bodies the way women have. This is about us being able to do what they do. Pregnancy no longer means that we will be judged for our sexual activity – nobody has to know. This is about us not wanting to acknowledge that what we are doing is not what we’re supposed to be doing. Pregnancy no longer means we have to publicly admit we’re not ready for motherhood when we give our babies to those who are prepared. This is about us not wanting to admit we actually can’t do it all. Pregnancy no longer means a nine month interruption and invasion of our bodies. This is about us doing what we want to do when we want to do it. 

I’m not making this up. According to studies, these are the main reasons women have abortions: “On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI)” (Abort 73). Occasionally (12%), “women included a physical problem with their health among reasons for having an abortion (NAF)”

Of course, there are instances when deciding whether or not to have an abortion is vastly more complex: the NAF says 1% of women studied report rape as the reason. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what would be going through my head if I was raped and conceived. I don’t know how I’d feel about carrying something inside of me that was forced into me for nine months, even if it is a little human being, even if there were wonderful, loving people who would take care of it once it got here. I don’t know. Women in this truly unwanted situation have my greatest compassion for the difficult decision they face.

But if it’s really about empowerment, how is it that 421 women have died in legal abortions since 1973 (Abort 73), not to mention the women who have died in operations like Kermit Gosnell’s? How is it that we don’t empower women to carry their pregnancies through to term, to give birth, to raise children, or if it would be best, to give their babies up for adoption? How is it that we agree it will be too hard with school and work? How is it that what is easily considered the most reputable women’s reproductive health organizations in the United States, Planned Parenthood, has been altering procedures to get what they need from the fetus? How is it that scientific research takes precedence over the lives of the unborn and their mothers? How is it that the laws about trafficking human beings are clear, but the laws about trafficking of fetal organs are “up to interpretation”?

No. Abortion is not about empowerment. Abortion is an industry that promotes and profits off of death under the guise of empowerment, and has left 57 million babies and their parents dead and dying in its wake. The tragedy is that many mothers (and fathers) don’t know what they’ve bought into until it’s already done, and by that point they think they are lost causes – some still don’t know. If you think about it, Abortion’s PR guy is brilliant.

I wonder how many mothers of aborted babies feel empowered, proud to have taken control of their lives. I wonder how long they’ll feel that way. For the rest of their lives? For only a little while until shame sets in and binds them, and they try to fend it off for the rest of their lives, alone? Do they blame the shame on cultural stigma, insisting they are fine and their decision was the right one?

Abortion is not okay. It’s the termination of a life that has no ability to speak up for its own rights. It tells women that there is nothing quite so important as an education and a career and being able to make her own decisions, whatever the cost for her or anyone else. It tells fathers that they have no say – they’re just the jerks who impregnated the woman, and now they have to live with her decisions. It leaves mothers, fathers, and their unborn vulnerable to industries that have their own best interests in mind – which are usually the furthest thing from the well-being of those in their care.

BUT, if you’ve had an abortion, and you’re feeling ashamed and isolated because of that decision, you can be okay. Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Of course, abortion (and any sin) grieves God, and that’s why it burdens us, but He never intended for us to be saddled with guilt about it for the rest of our lives. Satan, the Deceiver, is the one who tells us it can never be right, or worse still, that nothing is wrong.

Of course, there are dozens of resources, including SaveOne and Project Rachel, just waiting to hear your story and to walk with you to and through healing.

And Jesus. He wants to hear from and heal you too.

You don’t have to stay in the Field

Like a Reunion: Before We Say I Do by Emerald Barnes

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About Before We Say I Do (from Amazon):

Following the best-selling first book of the series, Entertaining Angels, comes Before We Say I Do, An Entertaining Angels Short Story. Chase Sanders and Madison Andrews are about to declare their love for one another in the most sacred of ways. Everything has been going perfectly, especially when an old friend returns to town to stand by Chase’s side on their big day. But is Zach there to see their union, or was he sent by God on another mission? Chase has lived perfectly fine without his father around, but now that his father is divorcing again, his dad is seeking forgiveness. Chase can’t look at his father, let alone forgive him. Chase must learn to let go of the past before the demon that haunts him ruins his wedding.

About Emerald Barnes (from Amazon):

Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie to three beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews. She’s a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor. She blogs on WordPress and Blogspot and you can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Review: I give Before We Say I Do by Emerald Barnes 5 out of 5 stars. Before We Say I Do is a sweet reunion of the Entertaining Angels characters. It was great to meet up with everyone again and see what they’re doing with their lives. I really appreciate how Emerald Barnes gets to the heart of the issues she confronts – there is an enemy trying to keep us from walking in the fullness God has for us. While Entertaining Angels mostly focuses on Mads’ struggle with worth, Before We Say I Do addresses Chase’s struggle to forgive his father, who abandoned him many years ago, before he brings that burden into his marriage. It’s short and sweet – only took me about an hour to read, and if you enjoyed Entertaining Angels, you won’t want to miss Before We Say I Do.

I’ve Got My Ticket for the Long Way ‘Round…

The past several months have been rough. Knocked-flat-on-my-back kind of rough. It seems like it’s escalated the past couple of weeks, and Saturday after I got off work, I just melted into crying mess. I was done.

Then, yesterday morning at church we talked about what our hearts are chasing, especially within the context of money. By the end of that, I was feeling really muddled, because I’ve been pursuing a relocation to Seattle off and on for four years now, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember why. This is the closest I’ve ever been to this relocation – it’s more real than it ever has been before – but with everything that’s been happening, I began to wonder yesterday if I shouldn’t scrap the idea for good.

I needed to get away, especially out of my own head.

Now, normally, when I need to get away, I pick up a book or watch a movie or a few episodes of a favorite television show. It’s usually less expensive than driving away. Yesterday, though, I wanted to literally get away. So I came home from church, changed my clothes, grabbed my camera and a book (you know, just in case), and hopped in the car.

I decided I wanted to go east, so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep driving if I headed west. I did travel east for a little while, but somehow, I ended up heading north on a highway I’m already pretty familiar with in Oklahoma. Since the whole point of this spontaneous little journey was to get away from what I knew, I took the first exit for a highway I’d never heard of. When I came to the stoplight, I had two options: I could go east to Durant, or I could go west to some place called Waurika.

I’m still not really sure what’s in Durant, Oklahoma, and I wasn’t really curious enough to find out. Besides, I didn’t really want to go east anyway. No, I wanted to go west, and go west I did.

Somewhere along this new highway, the compass in my rearview mirror told my I was going northwest, and I nearly cried at the irony. It was a beautiful stretch of highway, and I drive over the Washita River.

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(Photo Credit: Oklahoma Bridges)

Soon, I began to see signs for familiar places and highways again. I’d seen some things I’d never seen before, and I thought about heading back home. A niggling in my heart told me to keep going west.

This time going west meant a smattering of small towns between big, open fields. (The phrase “you’re in God’s country now, son” comes to mind). There wasn’t much to see, but as I passed through one town, it showed it’s location with a heart on the Oklahoma map (pretty sure the heart was bigger than the town), but as I saw where I was, I wondered if this highway would lead me to the Texas Panhandle.

You see, I’ve been wanting to visit the Texas Panhandle for about two years now. Why, you ask? The Texas Panhandle (and more specifically, Amarillo) boasts the second largest canyon in the United States, Palo Duro. I’ve never seen a canyon in person, but have always wanted to, being mildly obsessed with geology in general, and rock formation specifically. (My other two favorite Texas attractions are the Natural Bridge Caverns down near San Antonio and the state park in Glen Rose.)

I was very excited at the prospect of seeing the Palo Duro Canyon, but I wasn’t sure the highway I was on would lead me there. There were no signs indicating anything but Waurika. Finally, I came upon another highway that would bring me to Wichita Falls, and I was pretty sure I could make it to Amarillo from there. Somehow.

Along the way to Wichita Falls, I got to see the Red River, where it’s actually red. I also learned we have a dinky town in Texas called Petrolia, and these dinky twin towns called Dean and Dale, which my writer’s imagination thinks are named after cowboy brothers.

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(Photo Credit: Shan Richey)

When I got to Wichita Falls, I didn’t see any signs for Amarillo, just signs for Lawton, Oklahoma, and I’d just come from Oklahoma. I thought again about turning around and going home. I mean, I’d seen the Red River where it was actually red, what more could a girl asked for?

But I wanted to see more, so I settled on heading for Lubbock on yet another highway.

About ten minutes on this highway, I hear God whisper to my heart, “You don’t want to go this direction. You want to go to Amarillo.”

“Yes, God, I do, but there weren’t any signs to Amarillo back there.”

“You need to turn around, and head north to Lawton.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

But as I said, I really wanted to see the Palo Duro Canyon, so I turned around and headed north to Lawton as directed. Sure enough, a few miles in that direction, I began to see signs for Amarillo. (It was over 200 miles away, but…) And again my compass was set to northwest. Then, within the next few miles, the highway I had been on in Oklahoma met up with this new highway. I kicked myself a little bit for not staying on it.

Now might be a good time to tell you: of all the things I brought with me yesterday, a map was not among them.

As any remotely reasonable person will agree, I would have saved myself a lot of time by starting off with some direction and by bringing a map.

But eventually, I was heading in the right direction.

And in this stretch of 200 miles heading in the right direction, God and I had a really good heart-to-heart.

First of all, and most exciting to me, I realized this drive is the first leg on the route I’ve charted out for when I move to Seattle. Of course, when that happens, it won’t be fraught with all of the detours. It may not be the next time I drive it, but sometime in the not-so-distant future, it’s going to be a one way drive.

I was getting away yesterday. I was. It was needed and good for my heart and a whole bunch of stuff I don’t really expect you to understand. But when I go to Seattle, it’s not because I want to get away from Texas or my family or my church or anything heavy that I’m dealing with here – it’s because I’m following God’s call on my life, plain and simple. I have had a good life here in Texas, even after I should have left four years ago, and God has allowed me to serve my community in various capacities. He hasn’t made me miserable here in spite of my disobedience, and I don’t think He’d make me miserable if I stayed now. But I don’t think I’d have much peace.

I say this because I’ve been offered some help over the next six months, much-needed help, but the kind of help that keeps me exactly where I am until (at least) March. This may seem ungrateful, but I don’t want to take it, because no one knows better than me how just a few months can turn into years. It’s not because I don’t like Texas (I like it much better after yesterday, actually), it’s not because I can’t wait to get away from my family, or my current job, or church. It’s because I want to have the freedom to get up and go when God says, “Okay, Lydia. It’s time.”

I don’t want to go to Lubbock when I should be heading for Amarillo, if you know what I mean. Of course, now that I’m home, and can look at the map, I see you can get to Amarillo by way of Lubbock. It just would have taken me hundreds of miles out of the way. I’m glad I turned around.

But back to my journey…

As I said, I didn’t have a map, so when I got to Amarillo, I had to follow the signs to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Within what the signs said was ten miles of the park, I kind of expected to see something. The Texas Panhandle is beautiful in its way, but its flat. I began to wonder what I’d driven all this way to see. Two miles away – big, open fields and bushes along the side of the road. Less than a mile away – still nothing.

Then all of a sudden, to the right of the road, the ground drops off, and I see it stretch out for miles alongside of me: the Palo Duro Canyon, rocks red and gold in the sunlight.

I drive in to the first lookout point, and see it stretch out in several different directions. I drive on, and the road winds downward, and I realize, I’m going to get to go down into the canyon. I got to see the walls of the Palo Duro Canyon from inside it!

Some of the roads were flooded so I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked, and in addition to being mapless, I didn’t have any kind of first aid kit or way to fend off snakes, so I didn’t walk on the trails. I did find somewhere to park and sit on the hood of my car to just enjoy the view for a bit.

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(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

All in all, I’m glad I made the trip, detours and all. Next time, though, there will be a plan and there will be a map.

My Journey

Oh, yes. “I’ve got my ticket for the long way ’round…”

 

Be Still My Soul

Ever feel overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our lives?

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

by Katharina von Schegel

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).