"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." - Revelation 12:11
In that bathroom I sat alone, waiting for that little stick to show the two blue lines, indicating that I was pregnant. Even though I knew in my heart I was, the confirmation that those positive blue lines brought made my heart sink. Could this be real? What was I going to do? I couldn't possibly keep this baby. There was no way. What turned my stomach the most, besides the nausea I was experiencing night and day, was wondering how everyone would react. After all, how careless must someone be to get pregnant out of wedlock? In a family of pro-lifers, it was always easy to agree with these beliefs. I never thought I would be tested by them.
It was much less complicated to think of this as a pregnancy, rather than as a baby. I knew what I had to do. I had to abort the very life growing inside me. To face the consequences of my actions, tell my family what I had done, and carry and deliver a baby would have shattered plans for my future. Could I possibly go through the pain that is sure to come with adoption? No, I simply couldn’t. I was weak and vulnerable. I had no other choice, or so I thought. If I had known the inevitable pain, depression, sadness, and guilt that would follow, perhaps I would have chosen a different path. Perhaps I would have given my child a choice. Perhaps he would have been given his first inalienable right—his life. But, in the midst of my heartache and despair, I regret having to say that's not the choice I made.
I can’t recall when I set up the appointment with Planned Parenthood. Was it the day I found out I was pregnant? Was it that week? So many of the details of those dark days I have blocked out of my mind. At some point, after my whole world came crashing down on me with such a tiny blue positive sign, I called Planned Parenthood and it was set. That Friday, February 6th at 8:30 a.m., I was going to have an abortion. Did my baby know what I was planning?
I dreaded that Friday morning, but at the same time, I was ready for it to come. I was ready for my life to get back to normal and ready to feel normal again, whatever normal was. Much of those days are a blur of heartbreak and tears. Sleepless nights were spent, with agony at the depths of my heart and soul, rattling me to the core. It was the first thing I thought of when I awoke, and the tears would freely fall, against my will. I never thought I would have to deal with this. I never knew such pain was imaginable. I had never felt farther away from my Lord than I felt that week. But, all the while, He was holding onto me, even when I was as far from Him as I have ever been.
I drove to Planned Parenthood that morning, diminishing the gravity of what I was about to do. Trying to escape reality, I was living in my own world. I didn't want to admit the severity of my decisions and choices that had so quickly caught up with me. I somehow convinced myself that because I was "taking care of things" so early, it would be easier. Because it was a pill I would be taking and not a procedure, it wasn't really an abortion. I walked into the Planned Parenthood alone, signed in and gave my identification to prove I was of age. Of age, for what? To decide if killing my baby was a good idea? After forcing myself to fill out the required paperwork, I sat and waited. I will never forget the faces I saw in that waiting room, the girls that were there for the same reason as me. Across from me sat a girl no older than fourteen. Her eyes were filled with glossy tears, about to spill over. Her face was full of heartbreak and unspeakable pain. I knew what she was going through. But, she was so young, so fragile. “She should be protected,” I thought to myself.
After a while, I was called back to meet with one of the counselors. At Planned Parenthood, they like to call an abortion "terminating a pregnancy." I guess it's an easier choice of words than "killing a baby." She told me there were some risks involved, but I shouldn't worry. Later though, I found out that these seemingly nonexistent risks were a lot greater than she led me to believe. Many girls and young women have died from abortions, including the kind I got. She told me that I could have blood clots as big as a lemon, among other terrifying side effects. Then she told me something that I still can't believe to this day. She told me that some initial sadness is normal, but after a couple days, if I'm still feeling depressed, that is not normal and I should seek some psychological counseling. So, apparently most women feel relief and maybe initial sadness, but are quickly able to get on with their lives, as if nothing ever happened. How wrong she was.
By four that afternoon, the pill that would cut off all life supply to my thriving baby was placed in my hand. Three people stood there coolly, watching me put the tiny pill on my tongue and the cool water to my lips. I swallowed. Once I took this first pill, I was required to take the next set between 24-72 hours later. I left that afternoon in tears. No words were spoken. What was there to say?
A day later, I took the next set of pills and after a night of darkness, it was over. The following morning, I felt weak, but relieved. I wanted to move on as if the nightmare had never happened and forget the immense pain. I wanted my heart healed. And there He was, waiting to heal me, waiting for me to realize just how desperately I needed Him.
In my search to find peace for my aching heart, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. The next several months were filled with sin and darkness. Seeking comfort through many outlets, the one place I didn't go was to the accepting arms of Jesus, the only place I would ever truly find it. I felt beyond repair, like I had passed the point of no return. This had to be the unforgivable sin. Drinking and dating guys were ways I tried to fill that void in my heart. The point came where I didn’t care what people thought about me or what I did.
Too weak and isolated to make changes, I had become desensitized and was ruining my life. I had so desperately wanted independence and freedom, yet ironically, here I was in bondage. It was July and the nausea had creeped up on me once again. I tried to hide from this present reality, from this truth I knew I had to face.
I was pregnant—again.
I was certain that yet again I had the same choice to make. After putting off the inevitable for as long as possible, I took that little test out of the box from Kroger and within minutes a positive sign was once again staring back at me. I wasn't shocked, but numb.
Over the next few weeks, I thought I knew what must be done. I kept my mind constantly busy and occupied, never leaving enough time to feel the things I was trying so desperately to escape. It was in the times that all the hustle and bustle around me slowed down, in the middle of the long, lonely nights, that I would hear Him. When the whole world was still, and I alone was awake, I would hear the gentle whisper of my sweet Jesus, beckoning me back to His love, His peace, His joy, His tender arms I had run so far from. After all of my disobedience and running from Him, He still wanted to heal and restore me.
I have never heard the voice of my Lord as clearly as I did during those quiet nights, when every other voice was drowned out. How could I have ever gotten here, so far from the arms of God? In the midst of all the confusion and constant noise in my heart and mind, there was still hope. Hope that everything would be restored and that I could be forgiven. But, I knew it would only happen with the God of the universe holding my hand every step of the way.
I needed to commit this one last sin, then I would return to Jesus and my life could move on. Commit this one last sin in order to stop sinning? The devil disguised the truth with lies. He knew what choosing death for my baby would mean—suffering, heartache, despair, sin, depression, a life without the Lover of my soul. But I believed him. The appointment was set at Planned Parenthood for three days after my twentieth birthday, August 15, 2009. I felt assured it was what I had to do. After August 15th, I would once again start living for Jesus, instead of for myself. After August 15th, I would finally find forgiveness and healing. But God had other plans.
August 15th came and went and my baby was still growing inside me. God was doing something in my heart and life, something beautiful, something radical. He was transforming me, making me new. Something supernatural was happening inside of me, something I can't explain, something I can't fully comprehend. But He was alive! He was fighting, ready to trample on the enemy of my soul! I was awesomely aware of the spiritual battle going on, the battle for my very soul, the battle for my baby's life. And guess what! I wasn't fighting. He fought for me until I was strong enough, until He built me up, empowered me, and strengthened me to fight with Him!
A miracle was happening in my life. There can be no explaining it away. In the midst of my darkness, Jesus brought light. He was smiling on me, saying, "Just wait until you see all I have planned for you!" He was ready to take my deepest sorrow and sin and radically transform my heart and bring Himself glory.
How strange it was that nobody else was aware of the intense battle between life and death, light and darkness raging within me. I was afraid of what people would say and think, afraid of the pain that would come from choosing life. Slowly though, God was working. Why had I been more concerned about what others thought of me rather than what God thought? Slowly, my heart was opening up to Him.
He made it abundantly clear that I had come to a fork in my life and had a very big choice to make. If I chose to have another abortion, it was like He told me I couldn't imagine all the darkness and pain that would come. But, if I chose LIFE, the beauty and joy that would come would be so sweet. He promised He would be with me every step of the way and take care of all the details. I need not fear .Trust Me. Choose LIFE. I will provide all you need. I am your faithful Father, your Provider, and your Sustainer. I'll give you the strength.
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." - Isaiah 41:10
On a lovely August evening around dusk, the sky was clear and blue and the sunset was simply breathtaking. Although I was alone, the Lord's presence was very real and near. While gazing at the pink clouds dancing across the sky, the decision suddenly became clear to me. I knew what I had to do. I had to obey Him, to choose life. Although I didn’t know what would happen next or where He would lead me, having answers to my questions no longer mattered because He was with me. Feeling alive again in the warm summer sun, I felt sure. Hope had stirred within me once again.
Such darkness that surrounded me.
Threatening to swallow me,
Take me whole.
Stealing the light,
the precious light that once cascaded through me.
It envelopes me, gags me.
Taking the life within me.
My Warrior, my mighty Warrior,
Comes to rescue me.
His princess, His bride.
He fights for me.
Bleeds for me.
Dies for me.
This is enough.
His love overcomes the grave.
Breathing His life, His light,
back into my being.
Through that dark night of faith
He was gazing at me.
During the time I was considering having another abortion, I started researching the different abortion methods and watched several videos on them. I pored over story after story of women with broken hearts after choosing to have an abortion. I realized just how ignorant I had been. God opened my eyes to sense the depth of the darkness. Here He was, stirring my soul, giving me a passion to give those voices that have no voices. I had initially started researching when I was considering an abortion for myself, when God turned my world upside down and lit a fire in my soul, showing me just how precious each life is to Him. He gave me such a heart for all unborn life, as well as for the women affected by abortion.
Once I chose life, I was suddenly facing the choice between adoption and parenting. I knew that either choice would be hard to make, that either choice would bring discomfort and pain. I pored over videos, songs, and stories about adoption. There were many tears shed over the thought of it. I just wanted what God wanted. I wanted His will. For so long, I had done what I wanted to do. People constantly told me their opinions, but I had to do what God led me to do, what I knew in my heart He wanted, no matter how afraid I was.
During the time I was considering adoption, a beautiful friendship was forged with a young woman not much younger than myself. She is one of the bravest, strongest people I know. When she was eighteen, she went through an unexpected pregnancy and chose life for her baby boy. She ended up choosing adoption. I knew about her story because I knew the couple who adopted her little boy. I thought that if she could get through a pregnancy out of wedlock, then I could too. If God gave her the strength, He would give me the strength too. I contacted her, in search of support and encouragement, before I had the courage to tell anyone else I was pregnant. I wrote her, pouring my heart out to her, and telling her my story. She wrote back with such compassion. She knew what I was going through. And she shared her story with me. She prayed for me. She encouraged me. It was just what I needed. God knew what He was doing when He brought her into my life.
I felt the Lord's gentle tug on my heart. He was asking me to trust Him with everything, to trust that He held me and my child in the palm of His hands. His name was written on my forehead. I was His. There must have been rejoicing in Heaven on that summer evening in August. The battle for my soul had been won! My child's life was saved! He was enough. His love conquered the enemy! He whispered to my soul, "Wait until you see what I have planned for you and your baby. Wait until you see how I'm going to use her life. Wait until you see the purposes I have for her, how I'm going to bless you, how I'm going to use you. Just wait. Just wait."
After making the decision to obey, miracle after miracle started happening. A barrier had been broken and the Lord was moving. He had broken the chains. I was free, free from the bondage that had kept me for so long. I see now that the Lord knew it would take something drastic to break those chains and bring me back to Him. I was weak and totally incapable of doing it on my own. But when I cried out to Him, He heard me and He ran to my defense! Because I was obeying God, He had already begun blessing me. He worked out all the details of the pregnancy and took care of me. He took care of all the things that I had feared.
My Lord was with me when I made the decision to choose life for my child and through all the months I carried her, He sustained me. Eight months later, He was with me in the quiet stillness, as I waited to deliver the body of my daughter who was already waiting for me in heaven. He was with me on that dark, stormy day, March 16, 2010, when that little monitor was put up to my swollen belly and those dreadful words filled my ears: “I'm so sorry. Her heart is no longer beating.” He was with me when I held the body of my precious flower, Lily Katherine, who whispered goodbye before I had the chance to say hello. He was with me when the silence threatened to suffocate me.
He was with me through the loneliest night of my life as I cried from the very depths of my soul in my hospital bed with the body of my lifeless daughter beside me. He was with me the next afternoon as a blanket was placed over her tiny body and she was pushed down the hallway away from me, never to be held by her mommy again. He was with me when I left the hospital with empty arms, a broken heart, and shattered dreams. Left with many questions, He was with me when no answers could explain why she was taken so soon. He was with me as I watched her tiny casket, placed inside her cozy Moses basket, lowered into the opened earth and become showered with tears, rose petals, and dirt.
My heart was changed forever as my love for this child, previously viewed as a burden, grew along with my belly. As the entire world keeps turning, I am forever changed by a sweet little March flower who taught me what life is truly all about, without ever speaking a single word. I feel honored to have been chosen to carry her, for she was betrothed to the King before her birth.
What a journey these past couple years have been. I don't understand why God would let me walk this road, let me carry Lily and love her so much, only to take her from me. But I know that I belong to Him, she belongs to Him and He desires what’s best. I have peace in knowing I made the choice to let God be God, to let God give and God take away. I can rest assured that I did the right thing by obeying Him. My daughter died with dignity. The Lord took her away, but I let him have His will, rather than having my own will and taking her life myself.
Lily saved my life. God saved her from death and used her tiny life to bring me back to Him. He used Lily’s life to bring healing from my abortion, as well as from the pain that was caused due to running from Him. He has been faithful to carry me through the lowest times in my life. Never before was I so fully aware of His deep healing or of how He could restore my soul so completely. Already, He has used Lily to touch so many lives, to change so many hearts. Due to her brief life, a family has been healed and friendships have been restored. Many flowers have blossomed because of the rain that fell in my life.
It's amazing that God even worked out the details of her name, long before I truly realized the incredible depth behind the meaning. I named her Lily, meaning purity and innocence, because she was to be a symbol of my renewed purity and my redemption in Jesus Christ. Little did I know how much she would live up to her name. When I was choosing her middle name, the Lord gave me Katherine. At the time, I had no idea Katherine also means purity. Both her names mean purity. When I delivered her, I was suddenly overwhelmed with how her name took on a whole new meaning. She will forever be pure and innocent, untainted. God delights in the small things. He places such a sacred essence on things as small as a name. My Lily is with a beautiful God who knows her by name, gave her this name, gave her life, and took her life. I praise Him through this storm. He has turned a tragic story into a beautiful one.
The Lord can redeem anyone, and any situation. He restores even the most broken of hearts. He uses all things together for good. I am a living testimony of this. Even the things that the devil meant for destruction, the Lord can turn into growth in Him. In pain, He brings beauty. The darkness trembles at His voice. In all the ways I betrayed Him, all the ways I hurt Him, He loved me. He still had a plan.
I have named my first child Luke Shiloh, meaning light and peace. In my darkness, the Lord brought light. He has brought complete peace to my heart. I know both my babies are with Him and I will spend eternity with them. For now, I will be a voice for unborn life and share with the world how precious EACH life is to God.
Out of the midst of my darkness, Jesus took away my sorrow and sin, radically healed and transformed my heart, and brought glory to Himself. Lily’s life, which was conceived in my sin, has reminded us all of the value and dignity God places on every life. Rising from the ashes of sin and unimaginable loss, I have been made pure in Him. I am alive in Christ, with a measure of His strength and peace I never knew He intended me to have. Right now, I am waiting for the Lord to open up doors so I can share my story of redemption and healing. This is only the beginning of my new life in Him, and the beginning of the promise of Lily’s legacy. This is only the beginning...