Image A Mission from God

Last week, I was blessed to attend the annual Heartbeat International Conference, held in Chicago.  The theme was “On a Mission from God,” inspired by the classic 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”  We all received dark sunglasses for fun, and I swear I saw Elwood greeting people at the door!

I attended many of these conferences while I was working at Women’s Care Clinic, and I have continued going because I always learn something new.  Not to mention, I just love these people!  Seriously, this is a happy bunch who are committed to helping women in need, treasuring babies unborn and born, and encouraging men who feel unprepared to be dads. It’s tough work, but it is all done in love.

At the opening session, Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International, spoke of the incredible significance of being in Chicago this year. I confess that, due to my level of excitement, I was thinking he was referencing the fact that Chicago is home to the World Series Champion Cubs baseball team!  But quickly I knew he was speaking of far more important things.  Illinois has recently passed legislation requiring all medical professionals to provide abortion referrals to anyone who asks for one.  This is clearly a violation of conscience rights.  Some pregnancy centers have filed suit; I hope many more do as well.  But Jor-El made a powerful statement about our situation in Illinois:

This gathering is a declaration that we will obey the laws of God over the laws of man.

 

Our culture is growing increasingly secular, and so any “Mission from God” is mocked or attacked. Opposing voices describe Christian pro-lifers as judgmental, ignorant, and brainwashed. The notion that faith and reason can, and should, coexist is lost on many people.  But this conference was filled with professionals such as physicians, lawyers, and counselors who do combine faith and reason on a daily basis. Many individuals in the movement may not have the same credentials, but they, too, combine faith and reason when they take their incredibly relevant life experiences into helping women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.  I have been involved in the pregnancy help field for more than 20 years now (gasp!), and I have seen more and more training provided for people in all roles. Conferences, webinars. And it is quality training.  We love what we do, but we take it seriously.  We serve a Mighty and Excellent God, therefore we should always serve with excellence. We also serve with joy! (Cue the sunglasses)

I remember in late 2006 when the local ministry was wrapping up our preparation for “medical conversion,” that is, to add ultrasound.  I was on the phone in the evening with a someone who sees the world very differently than I do.  When I told her about our upcoming visit and review from Focus on the Family for the Option Ultrasound Project, I talked about the added medical policies and training we had to complete.  She seemed surprised.  I told her that using an ultrasound machine is not a game or a gimmick; it is a real medical procedure that would be done by real medical professionals.  This fact did not fit the “pro-choice” narrative she had heard so many times.

Of course, the added benefit for us at Women’s Care Clinic and all affiliates of Heartbeat International is the element of faith in a Loving God!  We believe He created each person uniquely. Yes, some pregnancies happen in unfortunate circumstances, but God knows the identity of every child.  Whether conceived through the love of marriage, the after-school misbehavior of teens, or even the violence of rape, God knows and loves every child. Every mother. Every father.

Every. Single. One.

So we do this work…this mission…because we are called by God to reach out and protect unborn babies.  We are called to support mothers and fathers.  We are called to do this in His Name.  The One True God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever and ever!  Amen!

 

Image It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today, I had a lot to do.  Much of that is due to not getting things done last week.  But at some point, I just need to catch up!  I am heading to Chicago tomorrow to attend the annual Heartbeat International Conference.  So, I needed to do laundry, pack…plus make some calls regarding next week’s Volunteer Luncheon for the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.  I also wanted to send some belated birthday cards, but alas…they will be even more “belated.”

Within my busy day, I had a scheduled meeting with a friend at Mad Goat Coffee…a favorite place to meet up!  We talked about work and family for over an hour, and realized we need to get together again soon.  We met through my work at Women’s Care Clinic years ago, and I am grateful that we have stayed in touch.  Bruce had dropped me off at the coffee shop with my scooter, since he had to go to work.  This meant I got to scoot home on an absolutely gorgeous spring day…my first long scoot of the season!

As I was heading home, I noticed the numerous red bud trees in bloom, and azaleas just getting ready to pop open. I love spring flowers!  I turned on to my street, and saw a neighbor working on a project in his yard with his teenage son.  I had to scoot past my house to say hi and visit for a while.  His wife came out with their puppy; both of whom gave me a joyful greeting.  We visited a while, but shucks, I had to get going.  There’s a suitcase to be packed!  I went down the sidewalk to my driveway, when the neighbor across the street waved hello.  Another friendly chat began, and I was treasuring the blessing of friendly neighbors.  I don’t get out at much in the winter, so these springtime spontaneous visits are an absolute joy!

Sometimes, despite my plans, God clearly has other things for me to see and do.  Today was a great reminder to embrace the good things and people who are just outside my door.  After a rough winter (health-wise) and a fairly difficult Lent, today’s series of visits felt very rejuvenating.  Simple things can make all the difference in the world!

I hope you have nice neighbors.  If you do, be sure to say Hi more often.  Even if you don’t have “nice” neighbors, say Hi…maybe your kindness will soften their hearts!  Pray for them, and with them.  Treasure them.  If we all did this more often, we’d have more beautiful days in our neighborhoods.

Image Get up Early? Not Me!

I have been looking at some daily prompts shared by writer Jeff Goins in a Facebook group, My 500 Words.  I started late, due to my post-holiday funk and fatigue.  But I have been happy to write more regularly, even if I’m not publishing all of it online.

One of his prompts caused me to giggle and roll my eyes:  “Get Up Early.”

I often look to Scripture for encouragement, but when I have a certain though in my head, a singular verse can sound quite funny.  I did an online search for the word “morning” in the Psalms, and found this:

All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.

Psalm 73:14

Ha!  Certainly the full context of that verse matters for a meaningful reflection, but I laughed when it popped onto my screen today!  Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I am not a morning person.  When I was working full time, my paratransit bus would come to pick me up around 8:15 in the morning, and I often scooted down my driveway onto the wheelchair lift around 8:18 before they drove away.  Hungry, because I never had time for breakfast, and possibly still with damp hair, I would apologize profusely to the driver. If I was ready on time, the driver and I would actually laugh and shout “It’s a Miracle!” or some other jubilant cheer.

My husband and I sing in a small choir at church for 8:30 Mass each Sunday.  We don’t have a very formal warm-up, so guess what.  There are mornings when we show up around 8:28.  In fact, our previous pastor often ran late (he isn’t a morning person either) and I actually started counting on the extra 3-5 minutes!  Imagine my disappointment when the new pastor started Mass on time!

The reality is that I am a night owl.  I usually get a second wind around 9:30 or 10:00 at night, a burst that leads me to make a few birthday cards or write a blog post.  Now that Bruce works second shift, this is even more true.  I might put on some Pandora or a series from Netflix for a bit of background noise, then I try to pull out my creative juices.  If my mojo is missing, I have been known to chat online with some of my stamping friends from around the country.  I like to stay up at least until Bruce gets home around 11:30, and sometimes even then I am still working on something.  Once I decide to call it a night, it is usually after midnight.

Added to my night owl tendencies are my health issues.  Sleep apnea requires that I use a c-pap machine, which I pretty much despise.  Arthritis and muscle weakness means I often wake up in pain at different times of the night.  I rarely feel truly rested when my alarm goes off.  If I have something scheduled, like my monthly Lay Dominican meeting, I can and do roll out of bed early.  But most days, I hit the snooze alarm at least twice.  I’m not necessarily cranky (though perhaps Bruce would disagree)…I’m just a very slow riser.

So getting up early to write or to stamp is not going to work for me. But clearly this advice isn’t a rule set in stone; it is just a suggestion.  The main idea is that any of us who want to pursue creative work must find a time that works for us and our home life, then stick with it.  We need to find time everyday to put our creative gifts to use.  Of course, we all have different factors to consider.  Health is a big one for me.  For others, small children dictate how your day goes.  Maybe your work shift changes from time to time, as it does with my husband.  It’s great to have some flexibility, but if we are too flexible we are less likely to sit down and do the things we enjoy.  And yes, it’s okay to spend time on you!  Without a dedicated time slot, we may push these fun things aside.  Then suddenly the day is gone.

Looking at how my day runs, I have some options.  I am home most of the time now, and even more in the cold winter months.  Hopefully during this month of refocusing my energies, I can decide how to make the best use of my time.  Scripture is filled with verses about all of creation praising God, and at all times of the day.  Morning, noon, night…every period of the day gives us opportunity to praise and to serve God.  Time itself is a gift from God, and so I should be a better steward.  This doesn’t mean I need to fill my entire day; rest is good too.  But as I mentioned yesterday, there is so much more I can accomplish if I trust God and focus on His calling every day.  2 published posts in 2 days.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Just don’t expect to see me before 9 a.m.!

 

Days of Gratitude: Cubs Win!

I really had not planned on doing the #30DaysofGratitude theme this year, because I knew I wouldn’t keep up with it.  Here it is, November 5th, and I am just getting around to writing my first post in 2 weeks.  Where have I been?  Watching and being completely distracted by the most amazing post season

#WorthRevisit: Climb Every Mountain

I have been working on a few non-writing projects, but decided to dust things off here.  The perfect way to do that is to participate in #WorthRevisit posts, linked up at Reconciled to You.  This post was originally published exactly three years ago.  I had started blogging about our Italian vacation, using my husband’s tablet

#WorthRevisit: #EveryLifeisaGift

It’s time for another Wednesday #WorthRevisit. Plus I am continuing my focus on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. Tomorrow is Gabriel’s birthday.  He would be 22 years old if he was still living on this earth.  Hard to believe it sometimes.  I will be speaking next week at the local Pregnancy and Infant Loss