Now I Value Life – Guest Post by Jacqueline at Deep Roots At Home

There are days when I struggle to be the 60-plus-year-old mother of three active and involved young adults, aged 21, 21, and 23, but as my husband and I look back over what the Lord has done, we marvel at God’s grace and mercy! We can’t imagine life without these young people!
There is great joy in what the Lord has done for us…for you see, we were married for 19 years before we had the blessing of a child! The reason? We had not obeyed God’s commands, and we suffered consequences that would reach over many years. In some ways, those consequences still continue today, though forgiven.
I will tell you the sad story.
The early 50s, when we grew up, saw increasing prosperity. After the terrors and hardships of WWII, families in the U.S. were focused on getting that new dishwasher, television, and maybe, even two cars. Women were leaving home for the job market in record numbers to have the extras.

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Then in the 60s and 70s, rebellion and ‘free love’ on college campuses exploded onto the scene. Most parents were totally unprepared to deal with it all, and thus, by default, didn’t. Busy with earning a living, many parents were out of touch with the social pressures their young people faced, the anti-God stance in schools, and the growing fractures between generations.

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My husband and I both had parents who loved us, but their generation generally did not find it easy (or were unaware of the need) to discuss deeper issues with their young people.
While on campus, we ‘married’ ourselves (without family or friends) in a chapel before ‘God’ on the I.U. Bloomington campus, and I lived in the frat house from Thursday to Sunday night. Life was all partying or studying. This was not at all abnormal during those years (’69-73) in the middle of the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and the devaluation of life with the Roe V. Wade decision (1973).
Immediately out of nursing school, my boyfriend (now my husband of 40 years) and I lived together as did many, but certainly not all, of our classmates. We finally did get properly married, much to my mother’s relief. We were 21 and 22.
Upon graduation as an RN, I worked in open-heart surgery at a large metropolitan hospital. Occasionally, when there was a need for extra personnel in the abortion clinic of that hospital, I would be called on to assist as were other surgical nurses. Even after being raised in a private Christian school environment (and calling myself a Christian), I was unable to apply the things I studied in my catechism class to real life decisions. I was for all practical purposes “dead in my trespasses and sins.”
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2: 1
I am ashamed to say that we had an abortion several years into our marriage. We had bought into the worldly view of living for ourselves, careers, money, and things.
Two decisions forever changed the direction of my life: first, breaking God’s protective commands regarding the sacredness of marriage (having sex before marriage) and second, disregarding the sanctity of life (participating in and having an abortion). I didn’t know it would affect my health, my fertility in years to come, or undermine our own self-respect or our respect for each other.
Nevertheless, God faithfully lead us to a solid Bible-believing church, and I finally accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at 29. By this time, I was really suffering emotionally. The pain got my attention. You can’t tell me that abortion doesn’t mess you up! I had already had several miscarriages and knew there were other things wrong. The worst were flashbacks to assisting in a surgical abortion one day at the hospital where I found a perfect, tiny hand less than the size of a dime stuck to the side of my gloved hand. It is terrible to remember it. I ran out of the OR and refused to go back. It has taken years for those scars to heal. I learned the value of human life in a split second. It wasn’t tissue to me anymore; it was a baby!
Now slowly my perspective changed. My whole being desired to be a mother, to bring forth new life within our marriage and before God. And we could not! Years went by with several more miscarriages. We did two home-studies in order to adopt, one Korean, and one local, but the Lord chose to close the doors. These are stories in themselves…… Many, many people at our church and other friends were praying for us.
After 8 years of pursuing medical help to conceive (Clomid and surgeries for endometriosis), and then 4 years off, I got a call from a surgeon I worked with who told me about a new procedure called GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer). I was working nights, 7 days a week, to afford the earlier procedures since insurance wouldn’t pay for infertility treatment. I felt the clock ticking the years off my life. After much prayer and many tears, we decided to go ahead. The first GIFT produced 2 tiny hearts beating, seen on an ultrasound at 4+ weeks. One was in the (wrong) fallopian tube, the damaged tube! We had a tubal pregnancy which is dangerous, but both babies failed to grow. It was so discouraging paying over $11,000 and nothing to show for it, but stress and grief and high levels of drugs (Metrodin, Lupron, and Pergonal).
I was determined to continue since there was a 36% chance in those days of delivering a live baby. We were told there was no other way. I clung to the verses of Isaiah 54: 11-15, especially verse 13.

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The second attempt went perfectly in every way. Twins! We were SO excited! My middle quickly got big, but in the fourth month I realized I was not growing in measurement. I was getting smaller!

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A hastily arranged ultrasound revealed that one of the little lives I carried had died several weeks before. We saw a separate sac with little bones, and were told our second baby might miscarry, too. We were crushed, and I was in anguish. I was guilty of all those earlier years, and just knew I was being punished. I almost forgot about the life within me as I focused on the loss. “Why God?” Satan almost destroyed my joy, except that Jesus is greater! “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5: 8)
Later, even though our other baby would be fine, I felt such frustration because if we didn’t want an only child, we would have to go through another of these uniquely stressful procedures with all the costs, shots, and stress leading up to it. Then once the procedure is over, there is the waiting for that determining ultrasound to give you the news, good or bad!
Having a baby can easily become an idol! I had to get over it so I could focus on having a joyful heart for my husband and new son. It was the will of a loving, sovereign God, and His comforting presence was very real.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thessalonians 5: 18

Finally, the day arrived, and the Lord in His mercy gave us a beautiful, healthy son. My aching arms were filled, and we dedicated him to the King of Kings for His glory! I can’t describe the joy and wonder of it all. We had been married 19 plus years!!

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My doctor said I was ‘jump-started’ with all the hormones, so we did a third GIFT to give our new son a little brother or sister. We were blessed with adorable, healthy twins exactly two years later. We praise God for His abundant grace and mercy!

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Now I value life!

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It has been a long road forgiving myself for assisting in and having an abortion, but I found the Lord has welcoming arms to forgive us when we come to Him in repentance. We are sinners, but by His grace, we have hope…and now can see His guiding hand in it all. Thank You, Lord, for birthing in us new life, spiritually and physically!

“…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30: 19

We have been able to share with our children (appropriately, through time) the curses we had brought upon ourselves. That has protected them, to a large degree, from repeating the same mistakes which we made. It is a blessing to tell them of the mighty things that the LORD has done for us while we were yet in unbelief and of the restoring power found only in trusting Christ Jesus. Today we enjoy a rich relationship with each of our children by the grace of Almighty God. I share this with you to encourage and strengthen YOU that no matter where you find yourself, our gracious God is always at work. Never, never give up hope, dear one.

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For 38 years, Jacqueline has been a wife to her husband and a teacher of their children in the home. Now a new season has come, and with the blessing of her husband, she writes on the blog Deep Roots at Home an encouragement to herself and others. (Titus 2: 3-5) How important is this role of speaking into the lives of younger women

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Motherhood Monday Link-Up & Blog Hop!

I’m gonna try something new here…a littly Linky Link Up. If it is popular, I will start out by doing it monthly and perhaps even work up to weekly! Please also visit M2M on Twitter @made2mother and like on Facebook.com/madetomother!

Grab the Link Up button!
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The Made to Mother Project is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and inspiring women by sharing their stories of motherhood. I hope that this link-up will continue to grow our community of mothers. Please read the guidelines below for information on how to join!

Link Up Guidelines

  • Please post topics/websites that has to do with mothering
  • Be sure to link back to your blog post not your homepage.
  • Share the Linky love – visit a page or two linked up here and leave them a nice comment.
  • Oh, and a link back to Made to Mother using the button above would be awesome!

What’s your mama story? Link up your post below!

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A Life of Adventure – Beth’s Story

My mom jokes that I was always a little mother. I constantly had an eye on my little sister and from ten years old and on I babysat and offered summer day-camp programs for local children. I figured that someday I would end up with kids, but it wasn’t something I really thought about during my childhood or early teen years because I was too busy making other plans for my life. Between wanting to travel, write, create art, go to college, have a career and build a life of adventure for myself, I just figured that children would factor in once I was ready to settle down.

My oldest child is sixteen years old. I watch her dance her dance of rebellion and tenderness and not wanting me and still needing me. I ache as she grows and I remember my own dance at that age.

I was sixteen. When the bell rang for third period and the halls cleared, I ducked into the bathroom near the end of the building. I entered a stall and locked the door while my boyfriend paced outside in the hall. My hands shook as I fumbled with the box. I read the directions twice and then checked them once more to be sure before I took the test. Staring at the lines as they quickly formed on the stick, I was terrified and hoped one would fade away if I waited the full three minutes recommended on the box.

Although things moved quickly after that, time stood still. I was raised in a small community where nothing is private, sent to a Christian school through eighth grade and held to the belief that life started at conception. Not knowing what to do, I was paralyzed with fear and shame. My boyfriend wanted me to make it go away and I felt like it would be remiss not to consider all my options, so I called an abortion clinic and asked a lot of questions. They tried to have me schedule an appointment right then, but knowing I could not live with that decision; I promised to call back and then threw away the number. I also feared my family finding out and perhaps trying to force the issue, so my boyfriend and I hid the pregnancy from everyone and continued to weigh options, finally stumbling on open adoption. I started meeting with an adoption counselor and found prenatal care that I could hide from my family.  With no car and no license yet, I made up stories and walked to a lot of places when I couldn’t bum a ride. I poured over the profiles of adoptive parents and literally read every single profile the agency had. I cried and prayed a lot.

Days passed, and then months. I wrote poetry and letters to my child. I hid my belly, but finally confided in a couple of people when the secret became too heavy. At roughly 34 weeks, I broke down and told my mother that I was expecting.  I had written her a letter and gave it to her along with a thick manila envelope stuffed with brochures for parents handling their teen’s pregnancy, support groups, my proof of prenatal care and information about the adoption agency I was working with. After handing her the envelope, I poured myself a bowl of cheerios and sat across the living room, sobbing as she read the letter that betrayed everything she had thought and hoped and dreamed for me. I couldn’t swallow a bite and the cereal turned soggy as I waited for her reaction. She was disappointed, devastated even, but promised to be there for me.

I wanted to keep silent, but people talk and rumors spread in a small town. Soon strangers were contacting me and asking for my baby. I was angry, desperate and lost in my grief as I prepared to lose the child I was growing inside me. My family had made it clear that I was not allowed to consider alternatives. Adoption was the only choice. My boyfriend and I selected a prospective adoptive couple and met with them several times. They met my family and it seemed like the right thing to do. I got my license and a car, signed up for Lamaze classes and went through all the motions of finishing my school year. Everyone told me I was on track for a bright future and that I was such a good person for giving the baby to a family who could offer more than I could.

Just days before my due date, we met with the couple again and signed all the preliminary paperwork.  They chatted about their preparations for the little one and I sat silent as they excitedly discussed their plans for what they would do with my heart when it was ripped from my chest. A casual remark startled me out of the practiced distance I had created; one little question that had never been asked. The adoption counselor asked the woman if she had ever been pregnant before and she answered without a thought to her words, saying yes, but the situation hadn’t been what she wanted and she decided it wasn’t the right time for a baby. I made hasty excuses for needing to leave and rushed out the door, angry tears clouding my vision as I weaved my way through traffic, trying to find my way home.

The tears didn’t stop. For the next two days I hid in my room and wrote and cried and refused to talk to the people around me. I had made a plan. I would give birth, sign the papers, go home and kill myself. I knew the how and where and why. But on the morning of my due date, I woke up from the cloud of grief and pain and saw another choice. I told my mother I was keeping my baby. I called my boyfriend and told him that he didn’t have to stay, but that I couldn’t give it up.
I spoke to the adoption counselor and apologized. I wrote a letter to the adoptive family and begged their forgiveness. To this day I pray that their child found his or her way into their arms, because my baby was not the right one for them.

All of a sudden I realized that I was going to be a mother. I had to find a place to live, a way to care for my baby. I needed to buy clothes and diapers and a car seat and find daycare so I could go back to school for my senior year. And my baby was going to be here ANY DAY!
Never before has a woman been more grateful for a 42 week pregnancy. God gave me the time I needed to prepare as best I could; time for my family to understand and accept my decision. I was seventeen years old when they placed my baby girl in my arms, but I had become a mother the moment I stood in the stall in my high school bathroom, listening to the tardy bell ring and staring at two pink lines.

In a way, it all worked out as I expected when I was a child, but not at all how I thought it would. I graduated high school with honors and an 11 month old on my hip; I earned two undergraduate degrees and completed a study abroad in Spain while juggling playdates, potty training, preschool, marriage, another baby and then divorce. I finished my master’s degree as a single parent with two little ones, then packed the minivan and headed to Mexico for an experience of a lifetime. Now I travel to various places around the world and continue to pursue my passions. I married again and had two more little ones. I write and create art through various mediums, but most often through my photography. I live a life of adventure; I just happen to be sharing this adventure with my children.

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Beth lives with her husband Thomas and her four children, ages 16, 12, 5 and 4. She loves being a mom, although parenting is a tough job. You can capture glimpses of life through her lens at www.photosbyejrussell.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ejrussellphotos

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A gift of Hope Adoptions

I was recently contacted by someone from my old college days at Hillsdale College in Michigan. She had read my story published on BraveLove and asked me to do a guest post on her blog for her adoption agency, A Gift of Hope Adoptions. Of course, I am happy to shamelessly promote M2M in every way possible, so I took her up on it! You can ready my guest post on their website here.

A Gift of Hope Adoptions is a licensed adoption agency based in Columbia, Missouri. They service the entire state of Missouri and can also assist those located in other states. A Gift of Hope is dedicated to meeting the needs of their clients in a professional way and on a personal level. Whether you’re a birth parent or an adoptive parent, they are happy to help.

Happy weekend!

Gift of Hope Adoptions

The Bitter Irony – Guest Post by Lizzi of Considerings

For the longest time, I was adamant that I didn’t want to be a mother. I had a horrible, tough childhood, subjected to victimization in a home ruled by depression, lies and the idol of marriage. Marriage was something which God had joined together, and no man, or woman, or child, should EVER try (or hope) to tear it asunder. Divorce was the vilest dirty word. And so, in our ways, for 12 years, my sister and I were daily sacrifices on the altar of that idol.

I determined that I would NEVER have children, because my experience of being parented was so hurtful, so poor (not in *all* ways, but in many) and so confusing, that I genuinely thought I would have nothing to give a child. In addition to which, LOOK at what parenting turned you INTO! Because with childish egocentricity (emphasized by the insistent message that I was a burden; something to be put up with and dealt with – never someone to be cherished or enjoyed) I assumed that somehow, part of the responsibility for that toxic home lay with my sister and I. I mean, it MUST, right? We were there, after all, being demanding and requiring input and attention, and getting things wrong and mucking things up and being in the way…some of the blame must be apportioned to us. And I never wanted a child of mine to feel that way for turning me into such a horrible person, and for ruining my home.
But I got a job working with children and gradually my heart unfroze. I realized the full extent of how horribly wrong my frame of reference for family life was, and on the day my sister announced her first pregnancy, I cried bitter tears of regret, because as the older sibling, surely it was supposed to be my turn first?

Yet marriage and children (I know not everyone feels the need to tie any knots before getting knocked up, but as a committed Christian, I wasn’t prepared to do it any other way. Which makes my story that much harder, I’ll admit) was not forthcoming. So I waited until I found the chap who had a touch of destiny about him. The first time we met, my gut told me “He’d be a good husband and a good father.” As I got to know him, I could see myself growing old and content with him by my side. And when he proposed, once I got over the surprise, I didn’t have a second thought about saying a joyful “Yes!”

If I’d known, would I have done things differently? If he’d known, would he?

You see, my dear Husby turned out to be sick. Sicker than either of us realized or anticipated or would fully know until three years down the line, when we received the official word that there’s no point trying for a baby anymore, because we will never be able to conceive naturally. We will (hopefully) be offered one shot at fertility treatment. And then we’re cast loose to figure out how to live our lives.
And in the meantime, to make matters worse, our marriage has been plagued by this sickness and its associated challenges, for its entirety. Three years of absolute hell; of suddenly having to manage a spouse who had succumbed to that dread beast, depression. Who often didn’t want to be alive by the end of the day. Who claimed he loved me, but rejected me on several very intimate and very painful levels, as a result of seeing the world through the dark cloud of mental ill-health.
His sickness also pervaded to other parts of his body, resulting in two miscarriages for us – the bitterest pills to swallow, that our first two children – our Neverborns – might be our only two. And each time I allow myself to think about that for too long, it absolutely devastates me and leaves me bereft.

In the time since, the gates have slammed down, one by one, on our options for parenthood. We can’t foster or adopt, as the depression has us (rightly) disqualified from their eligibility criteria. We can’t afford private fertility treatment.  And we have some of Husby’s sperm frozen, so why would we waste our one shot on donor sperm?
This is our final chance to realize our fragile, shaky, precious dreams of becoming parents to a live child, and it sucks beyond belief to know that the success rate for the treatment we might get – the BEST treatment – stands at 16%.

The irony of those miscarriages is strong. And each month when crushing disappointment claws at my heart as I realize that no, I’m not pregnant. Again. It is only balanced by the knowledge that at least I’m not LOSING another baby. Because there is no more profoundly painful feeling I have ever encountered than knowing that my body – designed to protect and nurture and grow – had been unable to hang onto my child. Or the knowledge that each of my tiny babies were defective, and were never going to grow beyond the point they reached, and so just gave up; zipped up wrong – abominations to be disposed of and expelled.

No pain EVER equalled this before.

And so I face life as an Invisible Mom – potentially forever. No one will see my children. I’ll never get to hold them close or smell their hair or kiss their scraped knees better. I’ll never shout at them or get kicked in the face by them, or embarrassed in restaurants by their behaviour, or have my heart broken when theirs is.
I’ll get to sleep in on the weekends. To do precisely as I want, when I want. With two incomes, I’ll be able to buy myself nice things, and enjoy them without risking the ruin of little fingers. I’ll be able to drink without worrying that I might need to be sober if one of the kids had an emergency. I won’t have to pay out for schooling fees or worry about bullies. My life will be my own.

And I’d trade it in a second.

Considerings

Lizzi is a deep thinker, truth-teller and seeker of good things. She writes her thoughts on her blog Considerings. You can also find her on Facebook at her Considerings page as well as on the group Invisible Moms Club.

A Mentor, Teacher-Mother – Lana’s Story

From the time I was a little girl, I loved to teach. As a child I would ask my teachers for extra worksheets to take home so that I could play school with my younger sister and neighborhood kids. My mother was a prime example of selfless, mothering love, putting aside her career to be a stay at home mom to my sister and me. She set a strong example for us and helped me realize that one day I also wanted to stay home with my kids and raise them. She is the person who helped me realize my God-given gift for teaching and later encouraged me along that path when I was headed in the opposite direction.

When my sister and I got older, our mother had the wisdom to place Godly women in our lives that we could look up to. Knowing that it is sometimes easier to talk to someone other than your own mother, she encouraged us to find trusted mentors outside of herself to confide in. It had a huge impact on me as I developed relationships with many influential women in my early life.  As I went off to college to study music education, I met other women who had a significant role in shaping me as a person by listening to me, praying for me and encouraging me in my relationship with God, prayer-life and daily Bible study.  Even today, I continue to make time to meet with women who shape and influence my view of what a mother should be and the kind that I hope to be one day as well.

When I graduated from college, I started teaching Sunday school in my home church and had the opportunity to myself become a mentor to other young women. I befriended a couple of junior high and high school girls and I spent time listening to them and praying with them. I’ve discovered that my goal in mentoring, or discipleship, is to help girls answer their own questions about their walk with God and assist them in understanding and applying the bible in their daily lives. I also try and get them to recognize the impact that prayer can truly have in every circumstance. Through discipling, I hope to be able to guide younger girls through life from a Biblical perspective instead of a worldly one; just as I desire to one day do with my own biological children.

I started my career as a music teacher in a public school near my hometown and teach over 600 kids each year. In my early years as a teacher I had a hard time connecting with some of the more difficult students but the school’s counselor was always willing to sit down and take the time to help me understand each one of them.  After hearing many hard stories, I began to realize that I didn’t need to hear a child’s story to know that they desired individual love and attention.  I started to recognize that no matter their circumstances, I could encourage them and help them grow.

In those early years of teaching I also began to offer piano and flute lessons out of my home. The personal interaction with students in a one-on-one learning situation is very different than teaching in a classroom of twenty or thirty-something students.  It has been empowering to see their uniqueness, watch them grow as individuals and be able to encourage and inspire them to know that they can succeed.

As a mentor and teacher now for several years, I have discovered a deep passion to teach others how to study the Bible. I recall fondly how many of my mentors inspired me as a teenager and young adult to develop a love of God’s word, an active prayer life and a godly character that reflects the Holy Spirit. It made me realize that what I look forward to most in parenting my own children one day is to raise them to know and understand the bible in a way that can help them have a thriving relationship with God.

But in the years that have elapsed since my college days, I have yet to marry and have children of my own. I never expected to be living this many years as a single adult. Growing up, I never had to worry about the next thing because it would just happen. In my mind, when a person finished one thing, they just went on to the next life event. First I went to elementary school, then junior and senior high and from there, college. Once college was over, I expected that I would simply get married and a few years later have kids.  When I graduated and found myself still single, I focused on the next goal: getting a job and moving out of my parent’s house. A few years later, when I had accomplished those dreams as well, I was surprised to find that I had still not yet met my husband.  And while I love the life I have, with a variety of mothering roles, I am still on the lookout to find a husband with whom I can share a life-long covenant and have children. If and when that day comes and I haven’t yet had a chance to bear children, it may be quite a life-perspective change.  At that point I know I will go through a mourning process to let go of the dream of being a biological mother, but for the present, my focus is on living for Christ with what I have and choosing to live intentional about where God has placed me now and the lives that I can impact.

In the meantime, it is my heart’s desire to continue teaching and mentoring in my community.  Since I work in a public school, incorporating Christ into my daily lesson plans is not an option. I had to be creative with all the Bible teaching inspirations floating around in my head, so I created a website to share my Bible study resources and ideas with other people and help them learn how to study the Bible as well. I have also written a devotional curriculum for families to use with their children at home and it is my growing desire to be able to start a weekly discipleship group for kids where I can teach them to study the Bible in a more active, gripping way. In the future I also hope to open a community home for girls as they journey from life as a student to life as an adult.  A home like this, that offers spiritual discipleship as its model, would give young adults the financial and spiritual support they need as they transition into adulthood.

I believe that God has entrusted me with the gift of teaching and mentoring and I try to use it in service to others as a mentor, teacher and friend. Overall, it is my desire to be a prayerful, patient and gentle woman who is full of grace and spends undivided time and effort with my students, mentees and hopefully one day, my own children, teaching them about God’s word.

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Lana teaches Music in the greater Portland, Oregon area and is the author and creator of the free online resources Studying the Bible: Resources for Adults and Children and Summer Family Devotions as well as the Scripture Journal for chapter by chapter Bible study notes, available for purchase here.