I gave blood again this week. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. I’m not saying this to brag. It wasn’t my idea to begin with. When God put a call on my life, He gave me some very specific things to do and being a voice was only one. He called out all the stops and one of them happened to be that he wanted me to share my blood.
I wasn’t keen on the idea. Think about it. Who wants to give blood? I remember bargaining with God. I told him that I would give blood if LIFESOURCE needed my blood type more than any other kind. I didn’t know much about blood types, but I remembered from school that some people were universal donors.
I will never forget calling LIFESOURCE and asking if there was one particular blood type they needed more than the others. I knew there was, but I was hoping it wasn’t mine. I explained that I had committed to donating blood if I was a universal donor.
The woman on the other end of the phone sounded older, almost like my grandmother. She had most likely had a similar conversation with others who had walked down this path before me. She knew exactly how to draw me in. She had a cheery way about her, and in a soft gentle voice she replied, “Why yes, I would be more than happy to help you out. We need all blood types, but we get especially excited about anyone who has O-Negative blood. What type are you dear?”
I almost couldn’t speak. As my mind began to reel, I gazed into space. God knew all along! Why would I ever think I could bargain with God? I had laid down my life, I had surrendered all and if that meant giving blood then that would be the way it was. It didn’t matter that the idea of it sounded horrible or that I hated needles. My selfish idea that I needed my blood and couldn’t share it didn’t matter. I was brought back from the recesses of my mind by the sound of her voice. “Hello? Are you there dear?” Continue reading An Empty Chair on the Fourth of July→
Today is Mother’s Day. I remember when this holiday was a jumble of emotions and the work that it took to contain them all. First, there was the grief of my mother’s death. I thought that pain would never subside. By the time I had children of my own, the world was less than kind towards the ache I felt in my heart. As if I should have been over it long ago. I was given the message that Mother’s Day was only for happiness and joy. So I wrestled to keep my emotions in check.
I tried to focus on the positives, like the fact that I got to be a mother. And being a mother has given me tremendous joy! I love, love, LOVE being a Mom!
The second grief was unknown to most of the world. It was my secret that I kept locked up in my heart. God tells us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” But my wellspring was muddied by the secrecy of the abortions I had gone through when I was 17.
I kept these secrets hidden in my heart and I didn’t let anyone in for fear they would discover what I had done. Mother’s Day was a warfare for me because it attacked my identity in Christ.
There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. The Bible says to confess your sins to one another and pray for each other do that you can be healed.
I had to get over two main stumbling blocks to get to a place of peace and joy on Mother’s Day and in life.
Truly grieve the loss of my mother.
Truly grieve the loss of my first two children.
I was in a Mothers of Teens class several years ago and the teacher recognized & called me out on my unprocessed grief from my mother’s death. I didn’t see it coming, nor did I appreciate when she pointed it out to me in front of the whole class. I had made some remarks and in the process mentioned that my Mom had died when I was nine.
It was not long after that experience that I spent an entire summer paying $125/hr to sit and cry in a counselor’s office. I cried and grieved my mother’s death and all that went with it. It was difficult work. I had not known how freeing it would be to face the pain, resolve it in my heart, and be able to stand up and move forward.
God truly heals broken hearts! I know because He did that work in mine.
The second stumbling block for me was the grief wrapped up in the loss of my first two children. This was hard in a way that I can’t find words fitting to express. I had to come to terms with the truth of what I was capable of and what I had done. I had aborted my first two children.
I went to a place called Carenet and they walked me through a Bible study called Forgiven and Set Free, by Linda Cochrane. The study lasted eight weeks. Each week there was homework for me to complete. Every time I sat down to do my homework I was met with grief. It came out in anger and deep sobbing groans and moans. When I finished my homework I would wipe my tears, take a deep breath and put on a fresh face. The important part is that I allowed myself space to grieve.
This season began a new kind of warfare for me. There are many (way to many) people who share the same secret. Those people rose up against me. They made all sorts of excuses about why abortion isn’t so bad in certain circumstances. Honestly, I believe my coming out threatened some of them. Whenever we see another person overcome adversity, it silently speaks to us suggesting that we too could overcome adversities.
The very thought of overcoming overwhelming odds and circumstances in and of itself can be a threat. It gives rise to the resisting and negative thoughts that tell us we’ll always be stuck and wounded.
The Bible says there is a season and a time for every activity under the sun. If you discover that Mother’s Day brings up a jumble of emotions for you, ask yourself if you have any unprocessed grief to work through.
This is my story. Each of us walks our own path. There are so many reasons why a holiday like Mother’s Day might not be a joyful celebration. It could be that you no longer have a mother, never knew your mother or have a bad relationship with her. Perhaps it’s not about your mother. Many people walk down the path of infertility or the loss of a child that died. There are so many reasons people may be sad or mad or find they want to avoid the holiday altogether.
My take away point is that healing is possible. The Lord heals in many ways. God heals with His Word. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20 God heals when we confess our sins and pray for each other. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Healing is a process that usually takes place over time. For me it took a long time. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
Ecclesiastes 3New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
It’s a challenging question. When I was a little girl my mom was dying. She knew she had a very short time to instruct me in the ways I should go. She told me not to have sex before I was married. She told me that when I got married, I should stay married for the rest of my life. Then one day she looked me in the eyes and said,
“Alison, you can do anything you want to do in life. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that there is something you cannot do.”
I looked at my mother lying there in her hospital bed. She was thin, her skin hung loosely on her bones. Her head was bald and she could no longer walk. But her spirit, her spirit was alive!
I had watched my mother suffer under the burden of breast cancer for as long as I could remember. The chemotherapy treatments had caused her to vomit until there was nothing left but green bile in the pit of her stomach. And then she would lay on our couch dry heaving and gagging until she drifted off to sleep.
She wrestled with big questions like, “Why me?” and “How could a good God allow this to happen?”
I was nine at the time and the youngest of three kids. I was sheltered from a lot, but so much of it could not be hidden. The last week was the worst. The doctors had not been able to take my mom’s pain away. She slept for days and the doctors said she might not wake up. She was restless and would moan in her sleep.
One night my Mom started lifting her hands straight up in the air. She was reaching up towards the ceiling. She kept doing it for quite a while. My Mom’s friend Mary and my sister were in the room. Peace came over her face. After awhile she laid her arms back down on the bed.
In the morning my Mom told Mary,
” I was there.”
Mary asked where my Mom was, and my Mom said,
“I saw Jesus.”
I glanced around the hospital room not really looking at anything. I was trying to wrap my mind around everything I had heard. Mom had confirmed what my sister had said. Mom was going to be with Jesus in heaven. I asked my mom,
“If I wanted to fly, could I?”
My mother drew me close and breathed,
” Yes, yes, yes! Alison! If you want to fly bad enough, you will figure out a way!”
That was one of the last conversations I had with my mom before she died.
When I was seventeen, I graduated from High School and set out to achieve my dreams. The first thing that I wanted was a family. I had spent seven years cooped up in a children’s home and that was not right.
When I discovered that I was pregnant I was so excited! My boyfriend on the other hand did not share my enthusiasm. My friends started asking me questions about how I was going to support this child.
Was I prepared to be a single mom? Where was I going to live? Who would take care of the baby when I went to school or work?
Fear got the best of me and I had an abortion. I didn’t know it at the time but women who have gone through an abortion often get pregnant again not long after. So the cycle continued and I had a second abortion later that same year.
For the first time since my mom died I doubted.
I went on to have five more kids who are all thriving beautifully today. But I suffered two divorces, financial disaster which caused me to lose my house and deep suicidal depression.
Like my mother, I started taking some of my big questions to God. I was angry and I wanted answers. I had seen too much injustice and I shook my fist at heaven declaring,
“You are God! You could have stopped this! My life is a mess and I can’t fix it! You are God, you fix it!”
Up to that point I had always believed in Jesus but I had never fully surrendered my life to him. It was a turning point for me. That was sixteen years ago and since that time God has worked many miracles in my life. He has provided for me in unfathomable ways.
A few years ago I went to my old neighborhood. As I was driving down the street I saw a house that I had driven past every Sunday on the way to church as a little girl. The house has five dormer windows at the top. Every time I passed the house I would count the windows, one, two, three, four, five. I want five kids, one for each one of those windows.
As I sat there looking at the house I was stunned. I had forgotten that I had wanted five kids from the time I was a little girl.
“Lord, I praise you Father. After all I did you still blessed me with five children. Thank you!”
I will never forget that day. I was reminded that with God, anything is possible!
I still have fears and the voices of doubt still raise their ugly heads but I have learned to settle myself. I spend time with God, I ask him what He thinks. I tell him my fears and my dreams. He talks to me with his word and gives me peace. He picks me up when I stumble. I love Him.
The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. It also says that God is love.
What are your dreams? What do you want to do with your life? Do you know this Jesus I have spoken of? He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother? He rescued me from the depths of despair and he will do it for you too!
What would you do if you were not afraid? What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Do not abort your mission!