Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When Free is Too High a Price

This morning was cold in front of 700 E. Hebron St. as we spoke for those who could not speak for themselves. No babies saved that we know of, but God's Word will not return void! There were a couple interesting interactions, however. A man who had just dropped someone off stopped to tell me that he and his mom are pro-life and that she actually counsels women not to have abortions. I looked at him a bit confused and asked, "Then why did you just drop someone off here?" He said, "No, you don't understand. That's my mom. She works here and tells the girls not to abort." I was flabbergasted. With doubt clearly written all over my face I said, "This is a place that makes a lot of money off killing babies. Why in the world would they hire someone to counsel moms to NOT kill their babies? That doesn't make sense." He didn't have an answer for me, but firmly maintained that his mom counseled against abortion. Strange. Could someone really work from the inside to try to do good? I think it's completely the wrong method. But regardless of that, I don't believe him for a second. I think the likelier story is that his mom tells herself (and others) that she's doing good and trying to talk women out of abortion by working there. If she were really against abortion, how could she accept their blood money as payment?

But before that interaction was one that frustrated and surprised me a bit. A couple stopped and I asked if they were there for an abortion. They said they weren't. I followed up with my usual, "Did you know that they kill unborn babies here? You really shouldn't be here supporting them with your money." I then asked if they needed an ultrasound and they said they did. "Oh, I can get you one for free today. We'll just need to call." (No RV today). They looked a bit skeptical and acted unsure. I said, "They will charge you $100 in here to do an ultrasound. Why don't you just let me call and you can have one for free?" The girl looked interested, but the guy piped up that they didn't want it. I asked why. "Well, my friend and his girl got one here and they said it was cool. The people were cool." "So you'd rather pay $100 for an ultrasound here by people who are probably not even licensed nurses than go have one done for free?" Yes was the answer. It seems "free" is too high a price when it might include someone counseling against what is already in your heart to do. I strongly suspect the ultrasound was only part of their plans for the morning. No one ever likes to admit they are about the murder their own baby...or at the very least that it might be an option if things don't go well on the ultrasound.

Surprisingly, I also had the opportunity to speak to the driver of the Stericycle truck, as his window was partway down. He looked down at me with lifeless eyes as I asked in as nice a voice as I could, "How can work for this company picking up boxes of dead babies? You don't have to do this. We can help you find another job." I got no answer in return, but eyes full of conviction and sadness.

We also had the usual flip-offs and drive-by insults. (One guy hung out his window, making the "L" for "loser" with his hand and yelling something at us. Do these people really think that kind of foolishness is going to make us run home crying or never come back again?). But we're always grateful for the friendly honks and waves, which God always prompts people to give us! It was sad today to see girls so clearly influenced by their boyfriends. Sometimes I wonder how many of them would choose life if only their boyfriends would offer to help and support them? Women need strong leaders!

It was good to have Anna and Sarah Misko, Susan, and Flip out with us today. I love to hear Flip preach on the mic! And I am always so blessed by the others, as well. Thank you for your prayers today and please pray for all these interactions to bear fruit in God's time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

He Gives and Takes Away...And Gives Again: Part 2

Thus began a crazy, twisty-turny journey of faith! First, our realtor told us there was an issue with the title, but it should be worked out. We knew it would be, of course...this was our house! God had clearly given it to us. But it turned out that it could not be worked out by our closing date, which was just a couple weeks away, before Thanksgiving. So, the closing date was postponed...then postponed again. Finally, we got a call one day from Beth, who told us, "I've never seen this happen before, but they couldn't get the title issue fixed, so Fannie Mae has taken it off the market and returned it to the bank." Little did we know this was the first of several "firsts" our seasoned realtor would experience!

We were disappointed and confused. Why had God given us something and then just taken it away like that? He wasn't the kind of God to dangle a carrot and then quickly take it away, was He? This didn't seem to fit with His nature. Yet, this seemed to be what He was doing. Admittedly, Jon's faith was far less shaken than mine. He steadfastly persisted in believing that this was God's farm for us. And I wanted to believe, as well. In fact, I clearly remember a time when I began to feel despair over losing "our farm" and suddenly, like a clear voice in my ear, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "Why are you upset? It's still your farm. You are going to live there." That should have been all it took, but I was still hesitant to believe.

Knowing my lack of faith, God brought circumstance after circumstance to begin building it back up. We heard several messages in church on faith that seemed to be specifically for me. One in particular was about Abraham's journey to a foreign land. God asked Him to leave his familiar homeland in faith. He told him to go to a land that He would show him...a promised land. So, Abraham stepped out in faith and journeys many, many miles, following God's leading. And when he arrived, what did he find? A land which was already inhabited. Our pastor encouraged us that when we step out in faith, we are often heading straight for obstacles. But God is in control, even when He leads us to a promised land that is already inhabited. He has a plan and we need to have faith and trust in Him, even when we hit obstacles!

During this time, I also decided to join a Bible study. I am not one to sign up for a lot of extracurricular activities outside the home, as I am just too busy with things at home. But I felt compelled to do this. Again, God was in this little decision. The book of the Bible we were studying "happened" to be Hebrews. Every week, I was being reminded of what true faith looks like and how to stretch and grow mine.

As the months of God's testing went on, I came to realize that the miracle of God's answer to our prayers was no less a miracle just because He saw fit to take it back. God is a good God, whether we understand His ways or not. He gives and He takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord! So, we began to just thank Him and praise Him for His amazing blessing, even though it was no longer ours. We marveled at the fact that He had answered so specifically. And we thanked him for the opportunity He was giving us to grow our faith.

And then one day the phone rang again.

It was our realtor, Beth. "Well," she said, "I just got a call from the realtor handling that house. He said it's back on the market and he wanted to know if you were still interested." Still interested? Of course! This time, since there were no other offers that we knew of, we offered only $45,000...$5,000 above asking price, just to be sure we got it. Our faith was not quite strong enough to only offer the asking price. Not long after, we got another call from Beth, "Well, this is the strangest thing I've ever seen and I've been doing foreclosures a long time. They counter-offered," I braced myself for the amount, "for $40,000." What? I think I must have asked her to repeat herself, as this bit of information did not quite compute! The bank had actually counter-offered for less than what we had offered! Apparently, God knew we needed every bit of that extra $10,000 from Jon's 401K to do the renovations. He didn't want us using any of it to buy the house!

We closed on the house and began to slowly go through all of our belongings and begin work on seemingly endless renovations. So many afternoons were spent out at the new house ripping up carpet, painting walls, and scraping off popcorn ceilings. What a job! During this time, I began to waver in my faith again. Were we totally crazy spending every dime of our retirement while we still owned our current house? I trusted God, but I just wanted assurance that we hadn't done something financially stupid. Well, maybe we had according to common wisdom, but I felt I needed assurance that it was in God's plan and that we would sell our house. Then one night I had a dream. It was the kind of dream that feels more like reality than a dream...that feels like a message from the Lord. In it, we sold our house in two days. That was all the confirmation I needed and I was at peace with our crazy decision! I even told a few people about my dream and that I believed we would sell the house in just a few days. And I began to pray that way, and to also pray that God would send a good Christian family to buy it.

We finally completed the renovations, then got our current house de-cluttered and cleaned up (parents are great helping with these things!), and went ahead and listed our house just in time for spring. The market at that point had turned and houses in our price range and size were selling quickly and for good amounts. An extra blessing was that since we had been able to buy the new house outright, we were able to move into it, but leave some of our things in the old house to stage it. And I wouldn't have to clean up every time we had a showing! (That turned out to not matter much anyway, but it was a nice idea). We were able to list our house for more than what we paid. Beth got it on the MLS on a Friday. A family came and looked at it on Saturday and were very interested. On Tuesday morning, we got the call that they loved our house and wanted to make an offer! We sold it and came away without losing any money. And in two (well, three technically) days...just like my dream!

One day shortly after we had sold it, before the closing, I ran into the new owner and had a nice conversation with him. I found out they were a Christian family and he had actually been homeschooled! It was an extra blessing knowing that our beautiful home filled with so many memories would go to a Christian family. And one more little blessing is that our new neighbor, who lives behind the gate with us and used to own all the land where we live, is of the same self-sufficiency, "prepper" mindset. It is good to know we have a neighbor who is watching out for the property.

Now we patiently await for God to complete "part 3" of this amazing journey. And we know He will! Part three is two-fold: 1. Heal Jon completely from his health challenges and 2. Provide a way for him to come home from corporate America. We pray these things because we know that in order to live off the land and do the things we want to do here, he needs to feel better. He has so many ideas he wants to work on (truly brilliant ones that he doesn't have time for) and really wants to homestead more, too! He wants to work side-by-side with his children, disciplining them every day! And we need his leadership. I'm so haphazard...I know I need him in the area of scheduling and to help keep us (me) on task. And honestly, he just needs rest from the stress of the kind of mentally exhausting work he does every day. I.T. is a very stressful job. We are SO grateful that God has allowed him many years of working from home, but it is still a stressful job that takes so much of his time. Having a brain injury (from a car accident years ago) makes his job even more stressful.

But we already see God answering these prayers. Over the years, he has improved. His Lyme disease is gone and his struggles now are lessening. We recently learned that he has issues with his spleen (probably from the years of being sick), so we did some research and began a regimen of certain herbs that are supposed to help. We are slowly seeing results!

And as for bringing him home, this is also being answered. God led us this year to a wonderful group called Educating for Success where we have learned some real options for starting our own business(es) and been able to network with some of the most amazing Christian homeschooling families. Finally, with the things I've learned, I feel like I can pursue all these entrepreneurial ideas I've always had floating around my head! I feel like I'm allowed to be who God created me to be...an entrepreneur. Soon we will be starting our own online food store (www.realfood.gpdb.com) that will only offer non-GMO foods. We are very excited about the possibilities with it! Not only will we get to educate the public on the dangers of GMOs (which we have seen first-hand), but we will also get to sell good food at wholesale prices. And I have started a business with a company called SendOutCards (www.sendoutcards.com/dpapa) and am seeing a lot of potential there, as well. (It's also helped me to be able to easily send cards to people to show them I care). And we have another venture in the works, also, that we're hoping to get off the ground in January. Our goal is to have multiple streams of income so that if one stream dries up, we have other sources we can focus on. This is another thing God has taught us...that it is wise to have multiple sources of income instead of being completely dependent on one.

Jon has always said, "Danielle, bring me home from work," but I didn't think I could. Now I'm seeing God open the doors to be able to do this for my husband, while still being a responsible wife and mother. We prayed an "impossible" prayer once, and God delivered in an amazing way. So, we KNOW He will be faithful to answer again as we pray in line with His will! We believe God's will is to heal Jon and bring him home from corporate America. We are praying He does it this year, but we are patient for His perfect timing because it is ALWAYS perfect!

(Continued SOMEDAY when God answers! Keep watching for Part 3. :))

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

He Gives and Takes Away...And Gives Again

Well, I'm only a couple years late in posting this. Procrastinator? Why, yes. But here it is! The story of our promised land (written when it happend, just finally brushing it up and posting it, so forgive the odd time references). If you don't like minutia, you may find this account tedious. But I wanted every detail recorded for myself and family, at least.

Today is the beginning of an answer to years of prayer. God is doing something incredible and I can barely contain myself! Today God gave us our "promised land," a piece of property and home we have been longing for and praying for over the past six or seven, perhaps even eight, years. Today we finally come home to where our hearts have been all along our journey, to the place God has saved just for us. All answers to prayer are exciting, but this one...well, this one is just detailed and complicated enough to only be possible by the hand of God.

Let's back the story up to the very beginning...

The story really starts with my wonderful husband, who one day years ago told me, "Some day I'd like to live on a farm. I'd like to have animals and gardens and..." and I said,


But God knew what He had in store for our family, and that little seed was planted in Jon's heart. It grew and grew over the years and, as our hearts are one, it couldn't help but spread to mine, as well. Without even realizing what had led me to the point, one day I realized that my heart also longed for this farm...this restful place. So now I recount those years of my own heart being molded as a record:

Perhaps five years ago, Jon's mom, already an avid gardener, started reading Joel Salatin's books and became interested in homesteading. With her excitement over all the new ideas she was learning, I became open to the idea of farming. It still "wasn't for me," but if she wanted to farm, I'd be happy to visit and enjoy it from a safe distance.

Jon's parents eventually found their own little promised land (their own story was a miracle in itself, but that's a story for another day), and they moved one exit away from their old house to a nice five-acre homestead. We visit them when we can and every time we go, we feel like we are home.

Somewhere along the way, farming became more and more normal to me. I found myself more attracted to this lifestyle of living off the land and Jon's own desire was becoming stronger. We prayed that if God was in it, He would lead us to our farm. Otherwise, we prayed for Him to take that longing away.

As times grew worse economically, Jon began to see the real need for being self-sufficient. I remember him saying, "I've really been thinking a lot about this. We don't need to have any more money; We just need to cut our expenses so there are less things we HAVE to pay for. We need to find ways to put money into being self-sufficient." He began thinking more about alternative power, gardening, and other ways to cut or eliminate bills. The farm-longing was intensified again.

But how could we ever afford it? The reality was that we had a very large monthly mortgage to pay, with no extra cash. If we bought a farm, we would need to sell this house first. So, we prepared to sell our house and started looking at properties. Several options excited us and we pursued them. But somehow they never quite worked out. The culmination of our search was bringing a realtor to see our house and finding out that, in the real estate boom, we had paid much more for our current house than we could now sell it for. What was God going to do? We needed to sell this house in order to move, but how would that even happen?

We called off the search for a while. But we had learned a few things about what we were looking for. Even with the house that was just a few miles away, I felt strongly that we should live on Jon's parent's street. After ending our search, other houses would come up for sale, but I had no interest to even look. It wasn't God's timing and it wasn't our land if it was anywhere but on that street. Jon felt strongly that our land should not be visible from the street and really wanted a place with no road frontage. Seven acres of land is what he began to pray for.

The most recent step in our journey is that we've become more aware of the facade of security in our culture, and we've become convicted that we should be more reliant on God for our security and to provide for our needs. We have realized that instead of having faith in God to provide for future needs, we have been presuming upon Him to provide for things we decided we just couldn't wait for. Our faith was in our mortgage and credit card, not in God.

Why did we think we needed to have a mortgage on our house? This seems so normal to our culture today, but it never used to be. Do we really need a large home with so many nice things? Is this really depending on God to supply all our needs? Or had we decided that the bank could supply all our needs and God would just continue to bless Jon with a good job to pay the bills that we had presumptuously created? What if we could just pray for God to provide things in His time (not ours) and He would? Isn't that a simple concept? Yet it is so novel to us today!

So that sort of lifestyle was in our hearts to live. We have a mortgage and there is nothing we can do to relive a past decision (and of course, it is not sinful in and of itself to have a mortgage, but it was for us). But we committed to do better in the future. And we began praying more earnestly for our promised land while we waited on God to act.

During this time, God began to move on Jon's heart to pull out his $50,000 401K to buy land. The fact that my husband even considered this was amazing in and of itself. My husband is a classic example of an over-planner. If there are two choices and one is a risk, no matter how good the choice, my husband will probably choose the less risky choice. As a child, he would ask his mother what he should be when he grew up because he wanted to start planning. This is my husband! But $50,000? Buying land is costly enough, but land with any kind of livable house would be nearly impossible on such a budget. We expected to have to build. And that brought about many more quesitons of how God would give us the money and where we would go once we sold our current house and waited to complete the new one.

But this was a decision that God impressed on him. It was somewhat of a risk and God would have to work out the many details. Within a matter of weeks after this decision, we noticed a For Sale sign on his parent's street. I copied down the number and called a few days later. We were in no rush, as we knew God would do what he willed, when He willed it.

The realtor, Beth, told us that the house was under contract, but that there was another house next door going into foreclosure that she expected to go on the market very soon. She told us she would contact us when it did. Again, we waited. Several weeks, maybe even a month later, on a Thursday I got a call from Beth. "Remember that house? Well, it's on the market now. It's three acres with a 2,000 square foot manufactured home." And the price? $40,000. I think my jaw hit the floor!

We scheduled to go that afternoon to see it. Knowing we would have to act fast on it, I spent the rest of the morning praying for several specific things. We needed to know this was where God wanted us and He needed to confirm it for us. I prayed that the house would be in good condition and not need major repairs. I prayed that everyone we told, particularly my mom who is not of the farming mentality and also tends to look for the negatives (not that this is necessarily bad), would be positive and excited about it. And I prayed for one little "extra": That there would be a space for my large eight-foot tall bookshelves. I had just redone them right before Korban was born and books are a big part of our family. They were special to me. This last request was a bit of a test, as manufactured homes do not usually have tall ceilings. I felt that if God answered that particular request, it was a definite sign for us.

When we went to see the property, we found answer after answer.

It was secluded. There was no road frontage, with a gate at the top of the driveway. We had prayed for seven acres, but this three acres seemed like a lot more, since the long drive meandered through the woods and over a creek through the two other properties there.

Built in 2001, the inside of the house was in good condition, with no major repairs needed. Some minor renovations would do the trick.

The layout was almost perfect. It had the rooms we needed, in the configuration we needed. Even the master bedroom was the same size as our current one. In time, we could do some additions and really make it our own. One major issue in our current house has been our school room, which is located upstairs away from the kitchen and laundry room, where I spent most of my time. I have always wanted the school room to be right next to the kitchen. With the addition of a wall, this house could easily be configured in that way.

And, it even had the unlikely extra I had prayed about: A tall enough wall for my bookcases. The ceiling went up in the middle of the house to a peak.

We called my parents and they were excited (another answer to prayer, as I had prayed that both of our parents would be excited about it). We put an offer on the house the next day and got it faxed in just in time at 11:59, right before the seller's agent presented all the offers to the bank at noon. Since there were five other offers, we offered the full amount we could: $50,000 cash. We weren't sure how we were going to afford the renovations, but knew we had to make a higher offer. The next day, we got a call. It was ours!

Or was it. (Continued...).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

That Still, Small Voice

We arrived at Hebron on time this morning, which turned out to be a blessing to Flip, who was late and lamenting. "The problem is," he told me, "I hear the Lord telling me to get up because I have a lot to do, but somehow I find myself rolling over and just going back to sleep." I told him how it was a blessing to know that even he struggles with this. And I shared that one of the things God has been working on me about lately is to learn to listen to that "still, small voice" of the Holy Spirit and to obey Him.

Growing up in a very non-charismatic environment, the Holy Spirit was probably unintentionally minimized as a reactionary response. But as I've grown in my spiritual walk, I've realized more and more how dependent I am upon the Holy Spirit. We are told, after all, that "without me, you can do nothing." What makes us think that we can simply muster up enough strength or spiritual fortitude to do anything in our own power? That we can depend on our own wisdom (which is, as the Bible says, foolishness to God)? Even much of our spirituality can lead us into relying on our actions...what we DO to become more sanctified and pleasing to the Lord. We do, do, do and forget that our "doing" is impossible without Him!

As I sit here writing these words, I am reminded that I can't even write without Him! And I pray for the words to effectively communicate...for the Holy Spirit to fill me so that my words are His words and not my own.

Since going out to the abortion mill regularly, the Holy Spirit and His work has become so much more familiar to me. All the phrases I would hear about listening to the Holy Spirit and simply allowing Him to speak through us suddenly have become very real. It is one thing to hear these common Christian phrases and yet another to experience them so vividly every week. To literally not know what I will say as I grab that microphone, set aside my "notes," and pray for Him to fill me. And, just as He promises, He does just that. I open my mouth and things come out that I did not plan, thoughts and whole outlines flow into my head like a steady, dependable stream of refreshing water. And the more I taste them, the more I crave them! I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Not in some mystical, flop-on-the-floor showy kind of way, but in a way that is real and genuine. A way that is quiet just as is the nature of that still, small voice. I want God to be glorified and me to stand back in amazement at His presence once again.

And so it surprises me somewhat when those feelings come. The feelings that should not, logically, be there.

"I don't want to go to the mill today."
"What if I get on the mic and don't have anything to say?"
"Maybe I should take a break from ministry."

I've dealt with them often enough to know that they are usually not even true feelings, but the inevitable spiritual struggle in the battleground of my mind. I am thankful that as quickly as they come, they usually leave just as fast. Today, I had flashes of all these thoughts, but the one that caught me most off-guard was the second one. Me? Not want to speak on the mic? It is just not typical. From the first day I went to the mill, I have been speaking on the microphone. This is my comfort zone. And I have experienced amazing moments of supernatural clarity and speech. But today I felt mild apprehension, which I expressed to Flip. He prayed over me and, in obedience to that still, small voice, I grabbed the mic and began to speak. And as I read the Scripture the Holy Spirit led me to, that refreshing stream trickled and then poured. Out flowed everything He wanted me to say. And the ones to whom He was speaking walked out moments later and told Flip and the others in the driveway that they had chosen life!

That still, small voice was faithfully at work this morning and we listened. And as we prayed for faith "above all," as Ephesians 6:16 commands, we know that He was at work in other hearts, as well. We may not see results here, but we have faith that we will see them someday in eternity!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Humble and the Proud

This morning started off with lots of activity! The moment the RV arrived, a couple pulled up in their car and I approached and asked them if they were there for an ultrasound. It ended up being a couple that Sarah had met a couple weeks ago, so I ushered them onto the RV and talked with them a moment while Sarah walked over from across the street to meet them. Sherry, our nurse today, arrived a few minutes later, so with things taken care of, I walked back over to the entrance of the mill.

Not too long after, a car pulled into the driveway and pulled to the side of the lot. The woman got out and walked into the mill, but the man pulled over to me and rolled down his window. I crossed the "forbidden line" to talk to him, but fortunately no one from the mill came out to reprimand me and I am so thankful, as the conversation was a fruitful one. He was Hispanic, but understood much of what I said and looked concerned, especially seeing the sign of the aborted baby. Conviction was on his face as he looked at the Tiny Hands booklet I gave him, but he said he couldn't read it. So I called to Elleina and asked her to bring a Spanish copy for him. I was surprised as he took it and sat there, reading the enclosed Spanish tract so intently that he was mouthing each word. He then flipped through the book and asked if he could have it. "Yes, absolutely," I said, and I asked him to go inside and give it to his girlfriend and tell her we were there to help. I gently encouraged him that this was his baby, too, and that he had a right to speak on his baby's behalf...that he needed to speak up for his baby! "This is not good," he said. "It's not good."

It was one of the most beautiful sights to see him back his car up, put it in park while still running, and jump out of his car and literally run toward the door! There was urgency not only in his expression, but also in his action! I will never forget that response and I wish so much that this was the response of all the men we spoke to today. I wish it was always the response to the truth. But sadly, it was not today and is not on any other typical day. I think of the distinctly opposite responses, including a man who just smirked sarcastically and casually said, "No, she don't need no help. How much do you get paid to do this?"
"Nothing, sir. We do this because we love the Lord and we love babies." His girlfriend sat in the passenger seat, silent and full of guilt and pain. But when I said, "Why don't you let her speak? Why don't you ask her if she wants to talk to us?" and he did, she turned down the offer of help and the boyfriend pulled away. Interestingly, despite the hardness of the man and her rejection of our help, I do have to note that they were pulling out of the driveway and I don't know if they ended up returning. So, God may still be at work here and perhaps this was a save. God knows.

I think also of the man who slowed his vehicle down on the street and then slowly turned down Denmark street across from the driveway. I thought it was just a passing curious driver...until he flew across the street into the entrance, scraping the bottom of his SUV on the driveway. When he pulled back out, I confronted him with the sign of the aborted baby and asked him why he brought someone here. Incredulous and with a note of sarcasm, he said, "I don't know what you're talking about. She's not here for an abortion. It's just a check-up."
"But why would you bring her to a place like this for a check-up when there are so many other places she could go? We can help her find another clinic. Why support a place that kills babies?"
"It's not my money. She can do what she wants with her money."

And I think finally of the man who brought a young girl, probably his own daughter, through the gates of hell to murder her unborn baby. He looked hard and cold and barely gave us a glance as he sped into the lot. But I wonder if she would have talked to us if not for his evil influence. How many girls are broken and hardened at such young ages because of their sin, compounded by sinful parents who help them in their attempt to cover their sin and "fix" it? The sin cycle continues on and on...unless Jesus enters into the muck and mire and breaks it with the power of His blood! Repentance is the only hope for those who are hopelessly enslaved to their sin!

And that Gospel message...the true hope for true and lasting change...is the reason for the record number of babies saved so far this year from abortion through Cities4Life: 450+! It is not about what the "woman really wants" or what will be best for her or any of the other humanistic arguments that I've sadly heard from other ministries. It is about the Gospel. It is always about the Gospel! It starts there and it ends there. It is about opening God's Word and showing sinners their need of a Savior...showing them why they can't stop the sin cycle on their own, through their own power. Helping them to see that it is about far more than just a choice that will affect their lives here...it's about a choice that will affect their lives for eternity. And not just their lives, but the lives of their unborn children who have no say in the matter.

To my knowledge, there were no saves today, except possibly the one. But what a day to see the stark difference between the humble and the proud. I pray that man continues to be convicted, and that he will repent and allow Jesus to save him. And I pray that his girlfriend read the Tiny Hands that he heroically brought to her and was convicted enough to not go through with it. Please pray for their salvation!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hebron report, June 10

Well, yesterday was an interesting and very interactive day at the mill! This is going to be long, as I am also feeling verbose. And I find writing to be helpful in processing these interactions. Our morning of ministry started out with us being greeted by a friendly pit bull puppy who enjoyed jumping and licking...and unfortunately running out into traffic! We were hoping after a few times dodging cars that he would just find his way home, but after a scary near-miss with one car, we decided animal control needed to be called. Susan handled that while I picked him up and carried him to a warehouse across the street where the workers (who had been alerted by the squealing tires) and I looked for a way to tie him up temporarily. Finally, I headed back down the street where I saw a young couple walking right toward the driveway of the mill. Ugh! The dog distraction had kept us away from our "posts" and the couple walked right in. :( I called out to them and then ran over to the mic, but I do wonder what difference it would have made if they could have seen our baby Malachi sign and been met with smiling faces and face-to-face conversation. God is in control, though.

The animal control guy finally arrived and turned around in the mill parking lot. I approached and told him where the dog was. He seemed disturbed by my sign and surprised that we were the ones who had called...the crazy people with the sign picturing an aborted baby. Yes, we care for ALL life!

Later in the day, I did get a chance to talk to that same couple as they left. I told them it was not too late for God's grace even if they had already gone through with it and I gave them some of our Spanish materials, since they pretended to not speak much English...okay, maybe they didn't, but his Spanish accent was nearly gone, so I suspect he knew exactly what I was saying. Sadly, you begin to recognize the many times you get lied to by people who are fighting a guilty conscience and shame.

Another encounter was with two ladies pulling out of the driveway. I asked if they had dropped someone off for an abortion and before the words were out of my mouth, they said, "We don't agree with all that. We don't like abortion," etc. So, wondering what they were doing there, I pressed harder. "So you didn't drop someone off?" They said, "Oh, yes, well our friend works here. But that's her choice." As nicely as possible, I told them that they shouldn't be driving her here. I told them they were complicit in the murder of babies, just as they would be if they dropped off their friend to murder someone...in the eyes of the law they would be accomplices. I even told them we could help her find a job, as we had for others. But they did not appreciate hearing the truth and said, "Well, that's God's place to judge, not ours," and their faces turned stony and hard as they sarcastically said, "God bless!" and drove away. :(

There was also one interaction with yelling, cursing, prideful women who "had already killed my baby, so it's too late!" I told her (and the others) that it was not too late for God, that He could forgive her and we could help her. But she and the others continued swearing and yelling, uninterested in anything I had to say.

Another man drove out out of the parking lot and I was able to talk to him. He looked a little upset and was soft to what I had to say, after telling me that no, he had not dropped anyone off. I knew he was likely lying (unless he had come from the not-very-busy mattress store behind the abortion mill), but just handed him a book and said if he ever knew of any women that were abortion-minded he could give them that book. I showed him the sign with baby Malachi and said, "This is what they do to babies in there and we're just here to help women." He thanked me and drove away. About 10 minutes later, he pulled back in the lot and into a space. Then he pulled out again. I talked to him again and this time he was honest(er), "My wife brought a friend here and she's in there trying to get her out." I suspect it was his wife and he was trying to get her out. I told him to call us if he needed anything at all. Near the end of the day, he pulled back in the lot. By this time, I knew he had probably lost the battle and so I waved him over to me. He pulled up and I handed him a post-abortion booklet, telling him if she did go through with it that this booklet would help her. Again, he thanked me and when he finally left, I don't think I saw any others in the car besides he and his wife. :( Sad. This will probably ruin their relationship, as it does to most couples apart from the grace of God.

At one point after I was on the mic, I was walking back to the driveway, feeling very uplifted in spirit. God whispered in my heart, "Faith is the Victory," and I started trying to think of the words to that hymn. We had prayed through the armor of God on the way to the mill, as we usually do, and the shield of faith had stood out to me more than usual because I was finding my words not coming smoothly as I prayed and my thinking felt foggy. Yet, I know that when we are weak, God is our strength! And we know that God has the victory, even through weak people like us! So, I had been impressed to pray very earnestly on that piece of armor in particular. So I was curious when God brought that song to my mind. I couldn't remember the lyrics, so I looked them up on my phone. Here they are:

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.


On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.


To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.


Could those lyrics be any more appropriate? I sang and hummed this off and on for the rest of the morning! There are some great modern praise and worship songs, but I am coming to appreciate the depth of doctrine in the lyrics of old hymns that I used to sing without fully comprehending.

The last story was the saddest to me. An Indian couple walked down the road from the bus stop while I was on the mic. Susan was by the driveway and she said when they approached and saw the sign, the woman's eyes got huge and she seemed horrified. They continued walking down the road and stood about 100 feet away, talking for about 20 minutes. Since there did not seem to be any logical reason to stand there talking, we assumed she had come for an abortion and was now struggling with the decision. Susan went down to talk to them after a bit and they said she wasn't pregnant and they didn't need help, so she handed them a Gospel of John booklet and told them it was a gift. They continued talking, then moved across the street and under a tree for another 20 minutes or so. Finally, they walked determinedly across the street toward the entrance. I ran down to get on the mic and rotated the speaker toward the driveway and preached my heart out at them! I didn't see them through the cracks in the fence, so I assumed they still had not been able to do it. Then I saw them again crossing the street and this time, we walked over and talked to them for a while.

They didn't want to share the details, so I asked if I could just pray for them. I prayed that whatever the circumstances were, that God would make a way and that they would do what is right. Then I began a guessing game. "Well, if your doctor is telling you to abort, you need to know that doctors are very afraid of being sued. I have a close friend who was told her baby would have all kinds of problems and that baby is a healthy 7-year-old now with NO problems!" "No, no, it's not that at all," he said. "There are just difficulties." Finally, after a few wrong guesses which probably were just getting annoying to him ;) , the most we could get out of them (mostly him, as she really didn't talk to us), was that they were about to split up and then they found out she's pregnant. She is going back to India and he is staying here. The baby would have a hard life. There was no way she could have the baby. We still didn't understand why. There seemed to be more. And when I came home, my husband hit it dead on, I'm sure. He said she was probably going home to an arranged marriage and if she were pregnant, that would ruin the marriage plans and cause major family problems. It's funny how you can forget some of these cultural things. It seemed so obvious when he said it! I can see now how the guilt and shame and fear kept her from even wanting to talk about it and caused her to believe this was her only choice. I feel so sad for her, as whatever decision she makes will have serious, life-altering consequences.

When we finally left, over an hour later than we usually do, they were still sitting there talking. I do wonder if she will be back or if she will choose what looks like the harder path. She knew what the right choice was and that is why she struggled so much. And that's exactly what we told them. Pray for their salvation and pray for the life of their baby! We shared the Gospel with them and even though they didn't take the Tiny Hands booklet, they do have the Gospel of John. I'm glad Susan was able to give that to them! Pray for a miracle in both of their lives! I do believe we watered the seed with them and that perhaps someone else will someday see the harvest. I'm praying for that!

Well, that was our very busy day! I think I remembered everything. Finally, I'd like to just thank you all for praying for us. Honestly, on days like yesterday when there is so much going on and only two of us, it is all I can do to simply utter a quick "Lord, help us," or "Lord, please convict them. Stop them!" But knowing that we have many others praying for us and interceding on behalf of the babies is such an encouragement and makes a huge difference! And we are winning this battle overall in the hearts of most people. We have so many positive interactions with the cars passing by...friendly waves and thumbs-up. (I thank the Lord for that, too, as the angry interactions can feel so heavy on our spirits after a while). It is an encouragement to think that the attitude toward abortion in this country is changing and that clinics are closing! And not because of politics, either. As Flip says, the politics will follow after the hearts of Americans change. It will be a wonderful day when we no longer have to fight this battle!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Three Saves!

Today was a wonderful day. I was finally able to get back out on the sidewalk and minister to the abortion-determined moms. God emptied me out of my self, as He so faithfully does, and allowed me to speak with both compassion and hard truth...words that could only come from His Spirit. I never even saw Jeannette today, as she was counseling on the mobile ultrasound unit all morning and had the privilege of being involved with two saves!

While I was on the mic, one couple drove away, stopping long enough to say that they chose life! It is amazing to be used by God to save a human life...a baby! Truly, He does the work, not any of us. It is a humbling experience. Never am I as close to God and as in-tune with His Spirit as when I am serving on the front lines of this ministry. The fact is, when you jump into a spiritual battle so intense that you can almost physically FEEL it, you simply can't go into it without confession and repentance. You must put on every piece of the spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18) and, in so doing, you must also hold onto that shield of faith, knowing that your preparation in the Lord will "extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."

Along these lines, I must say that our long drive down to the mill is a blessing. It gives us the opportunity to really focus on where we are going and why. It gives us 35-40 focused minutes of prayer to confess our sins and plead on behalf of the babies. This morning, Elleina and I prayed through each verse of Ephesians 6:10-18, she reading a verse aloud and me following each verse with specific prayer. We continue to pray each week that God would awaken His church to the violent infanticide that is going on every day, just as it went on in the days of Israel when babies were sacrificed to Molek. There really is no difference except that these babies are not seen or heard as they suffer excruciating pain for the sake of the god of materialism and convenience (for the most part). (However, if they could cry audibly, I suspect we as Christians would be no less apathetic as their cries simply became our version of "normal." I'm reminded of this as we've been reading the story of George Muller. Even he was fairly immune to the orphans roaming the streets in his time until God got a hold of his heart and he saw reality for what it was.) Flip Benham stopped by this morning to encourage the "troops" and was sharing how God is moving among the church and "clinics" are continuing to close. Praise the Lord! Please keep praying with us for God to awaken His church!

I also met a lady named Jill who came out for the first time this morning and was visibly moved by what she saw. I sometimes forget how burdened and stomach-sick I felt the first time I dared to tread in front of the "gates of hell." Even hell on earth can become "normal" if we forget the reality of what goes on there. I never thought I could...and yet I now find myself in that place more than I'd like. I guess that is why sometimes I take time to refresh my memory by looking at images, watching videos, and reading articles that jolt me back to reality...that even cause me to weep...that remind me why we fight to end the atrocity of abortion and to offer hope to the lost, enslaved souls. I want to feel something when I think of abortion! I want to be broken-hearted, as Jesus certainly is. I want no more of the complacency I "enjoyed" for too much of my life. I want to faithfully hate (and yet love) going where I must go each week!

But what we do with those feelings is just as important as experiencing them. Anger must be righteous and it must be directed at the proper target. This morning, a lady whom I had seen drive by a couple times in a minivan, came walking across the street to the other end of the sidewalk to talk to Jennifer. She appeared angry, even from a distance. Unsure if I should go over (or if it was just a needless distraction), I asked Eliana if she knew what was going on. "I don't know. Go find out!" I took that as God's leading and did so.

This lady, whose son had an appointment at the psychiatric facility across the street (fitting location, huh?) was angered by our signs because of the impact they had on her 11-year-old son. I gently told her that these signs have literally saved lives and that we are told in the Bible to expose the darkness for what it truly is. "I'm an atheist, so that doesn't matter to me!" She was not interested in the fact that literal human lives have been saved. She belittled the value of the lives of others, caring only for the emotional state of her son. I told her I was sorry for her son's difficulties and that I would pray for both her and him. She stormed off, angrily accusing us of only caring for the unborn and not her child.

I will admit that one of the hardest things is that children have to be exposed to this at times, but many mothers have been completely unaffected by the images of a developing fetus, yet are stunned to see the gruesome reality of abortion and choose life solely because of it! And God protects they eyes of the little ones. In the experience of most of the counselors with children, He sovereignly allows them a simple understanding that this is a "broken" baby and protects them from any sort of trauma. I'm afraid this lady's child's mental issues have more to do with growing up with an atheistic mother than anything else. After all, without God, how do you handle such realities? If only this lady's anger would spur her to do something to end the reality that these pictures portray, rather than getting angry about truth being exposed.

Ultimately, there were three confirmed babies saved today! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness! I did not, however, remember to call the abortion mill at Wendover and I am irritated with myself for that. Prayerfully I will remember tomorrow. We need to know when they are open, as their schedule seems random, and our team has not been able to minister there for over a month as we want to be as effective as possible and use our ministry time wisely.

Well, I am awfully chatty tonight. There is a reason I don't blog much. ;) Shifting topics, my afternoon wrapped up with a great phone conversation with a random dad who is considering homeschooling and had heard I was the "homeschooling expert" (ha! I truly think any parent who homeschools is an expert in their own right!!) Nothing excites me more than sparking excitement for homeschooling in others! This dad is slowly realizing that there is another way to educate that does not include uncomfortable desks and seemingly-pointless assignments taught by factory-method for 6-7 hours a day, as though individuality did not exist and every child must learn "X" by grade "Y" or they are not "normal." Please. Oh to be a part of setting minds free! How exciting it is to see the lightbulbs come on!

His son simply does not learn like others and has had a self-esteem-destroying label slapped on him. I encouraged the dad that if God is in this, He will direct him and to not be afraid of all the unknowns. I encouraged him to find his son's interests...things that truly excite him...and look for learning opportunities to tailor his education to meet his needs. Perhaps starting a business would help make math meaningful so that it would make sense to him! It will give this dad more time with his son and pursuing something of value, such as a business, will then put more value on his education in his son's mind. I'm excited for this family as they set out on this new, uncharted path, trusting in God to guide them through the learning curve!

Well, I really must be done now. I'm sure you've heard enough of me for one night!