Would You Have Been #BraveLikeMary?

Dear Christian Sisters,

We left off with Mary asking the angel Gabriel how she would conceive while being a virgin.

When Dr. Bill Creasy teaches on this passage, he chuckles and says that Gabriel blushes as he answers Mary:

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35

Trusting God’s Plan

If I were Mary, I would think that this is all still very puzzling. But then I think about how puzzling God’s plans seem to me every day.

I mean, He has used women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba to accomplish His plan, so certainly His plans will be accomplished.

I just need to trust that God can do anything (Ephesians 3:20).

Confirming God’s Promises

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:36-37

All the relatives knew that Elizabeth was barren, so Mary would understand how miraculous it is that Elizabeth is now pregnant! So through the angel Gabriel telling Mary about Elizabeth, God gives Mary a way to confirm His promises.

Mary takes all this in. She will get pregnant if she says, “yes.” The angel confirmed that.

Considering Societal Consequences of Saying “Yes” to God

But if Mary gets pregnant before she’s married, Jewish Law says that she should be stoned to death.

“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”
Deuteronomy 22:23-24

Mary must have reasoned that the Lord would not have her stoned otherwise the Messiah would not be born.

But would people believe her when she claimed to be pregnant with the Messiah? What would her parents say? What would her betrothed Joseph say?

She had a decision to make. Will she say, “Yes”?

Dr. Creasy says that all the angels were holding their breath in anticipation.

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38

And all the angels sighed in relief and high fived each other! Mary was the first person to say, “Yes” to Jesus.

Would You Have Said, “Yes”?

Would you have said, “yes”?

Perhaps you would be excited to carry the Messiah. I’m sure Mary was!

What Would Your Parents Say?

But think about what you know about the rest of the story. Do we ever hear anything about Mary’s parents?

No, we don’t. Mary doesn’t say anything about her parents’ reaction to her news. Perhaps rather than telling how negatively her parents responded, she chose to honor her mother and her father by saying nothing.

What Would Your Fiancé Say?

Think about what you know about Joseph’s reaction. He was going to divorce her quietly, so evidently he didn’t believe her, either.

Mary’s parents don’t believe her. Her fiancé doesn’t believe her. And we find out 30-some years later that the people who lived in Nazareth didn’t believe her, either.

What Would Society Say?

In John 8, after He saves the adulterous woman from stoning, Jesus continues to have a conversation with non-believers. In that conversation, they said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God” (verse 41 ESV), which is their way of accusing Mary of fornication.

What Would You say?

So, again, I ask you what you would have done? You’re in your teens. You’re a virgin. You would be facing a society that stones women to death for being pregnant out of wedlock. The Lord asked you to give birth to the Messiah. Would you have said, “yes”?

Would you have been #bravelikeMary?

In Christ,

Cheryl

The Lord Wants to Talk with Us #BraveLikeMary Series

And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:28-34

Mary’s question is not one of doubt, like Zacharias’ doubt in verse 18. This is a young woman, a virgin, trying understand how she was going to get pregnant.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14

Certainly Mary knew the prophesy.

Certainly all the Jews were talking about the prophesy because they would have figured out, based on Daniel 9:24-27, that the Messiah would soon be born.

Certainly all the young women were talking about who would be the chosen virgin and wondering how a virgin would conceive.

Mary doesn’t understanding how this is going to happen, so she asks. This passage gives me peace that it’s okay to ask God how He’s going to accomplish His promises.

The Lord wants to have a conversation with us. He wants us to ask—because He loves us.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Elizabeth’s Barrenness—Her Perspective vs God’s Perspective (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

The story of Jesus’ birth actually begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Mary’s, so John and Jesus were cousins—not first cousins because Elizabeth and Mary were not sisters, but cousins in their larger, extended family.

Elizabeth plays an important role in Mary’s life. She was Mary’s mentor.

But before we talk about Elizabeth mentoring Mary, let’s try to see the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Introducing Zacharias and Elizabeth

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:5

So what Luke is telling us is that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were of the tribe of Levi. The Levites were the Jewish priests.

Elizabeth is Both Righteous and Barren

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Luke 1:6-7

So, Elizabeth’s clock had been ticking for some time. She wasn’t beyond childbearing years, that is, she had not yet entered menopause, but she was getting close.

Yet, she had no children.

In the Jewish culture of the time, big families were the norm. To not have children was rare. And as you may recall from my blog post titled, “Abortion & the Bible,” Old Testament Jews valued children.

It could have been that others shamed Elizabeth for not having children, yet she walked blamelessly.

Barrenness

Let me ask you this: Is an inability to have children a curse from God?

I hope you said no!

The answer is in Luke 1:6-7 (quoted above). Both Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous in the Lord, yet they did not have children.

God is love (1 John 4:8). A curse cannot come from love.

If Elizabeth’s story is like your story, know that your challenge to conceive or to carry a child to term is not about how good you are.

It’s about furthering God’s kingdom.

God’s Perspective

We all have our stories. We tell our stories from our own perspectives.

“We can’t have kids” is Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story.

“When I will receive greater glory, Zacharias and Elizabeth will have a child” is God’s story.

We can look at every story in the Bible from the perspective of those who were there and from the perspective of God.

Now, our insights won’t be perfect because the culture of the time isn’t like ours today (especially that of the United States) and because it’s challenging to imagine God’s thoughts since He is so much greater than we are; however, taking time to consider other perspectives will help us to understand God.

We can also look at our own stories from our own perspective, from the perspective of others, and from the perspective of God.

It’s a whole new twist on He said/she said.

He Said / She Said

Have you ever told a story from childhood only to hear your parents or your siblings tell the story in a completely different way?

To encourage my older boy to write, we teamed up to write some he said/she said stories. We took the same event and each told the story. It was a great way for him to learn perspective!

Our favorite he said/she said story was about a trip from Minneapolis to Atlanta through Detroit, where we had a 5-hour delay. He absolutely loved that trip because he got to watch videos, explore the airport, ride the tram and the moving sidewalk, and go on a big airplane (777).

He was 7 at the time of this story. My other boy was a potty training toddler. The 7 pm flight ended up being a 12 midnight flight. Can you guess what the trip was like for me?

I carried my bag, my purse, a diaper bag, and a toddler.

I took all of us to the bathroom for diaper changes.

I walked boys in the moving sidewalk and took them on the tram over and over again.

When we finally got on the airplane, the boys wouldn’t go to sleep because they were so excited that they had their very own TV.

When we got to the Atlanta airport, the 2-story escalator going down to the tram was out-of-order. Thankfully it was going down, not up, but it was 3 am, and I was carrying several bags and a toddler!

What my son thought was fun, I thought was exhausting!

My Abortion Story from My Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of my own abortion story, I can think about it from my perspective (read “Faces of Abortions“)
OR
from my boyfriend’s perspective
OR
from my parents’ perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

When I had the abortion, I was relieved because I thought the crisis was over.

How else did I feel? Good question. I think that mostly I was angry that I got pregnant. It didn’t seem fair to me that men could have sex without consequences, but women were shamed for being pregnant out of wedlock.

I’m not saying that I was right. Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are.

He Said

I’m sure God cried when I aborted my baby. I’m also sure that God welcomed my baby girl into heaven that day.

I am also convinced that God decided to use my story to stop future abortions, to stop other women from hurting themselves through abortion.

And here I am today, redeemed by His love (read “Forgiveness“), compelled by the Lord to write this blog, and speaking in Uganda and in the U.S.

I traded my story for His story.

[Will you sponsor my next mission trip to Uganda? (Dec 26, 2017-Jan 6, 2018) Your tax-deductible donation can be made online.]

The United States’ Abortion History from Women’s Rights Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of crisis pregnancies and abortion throughout the history of the United States and the world, I can look at it from from the perspectives of women who are worried about bringing a child into this world
OR
from a women’s rights perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

Women’s reasons for aborting are varied. Here are just a few:

I can’t afford to raise a child. My parents will be so disappointed with me. The baby daddy will be so mad. Children put up for adoption feel abandoned and might be abused by their adoptive parents. I have the right to choose.

Again, I am not saying that these are right. They are feelings, mostly feelings of fear.

He Said

God cries for every woman who aborts. God welcomes every aborted baby into heaven.

I am also convinced that God is saddened by women not feeling valued by men even though we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

As for our nation—as for all the nations that have legalized abortion—I’m sure God is angry. He founded the United States based on His commandments, yet as a nation we have decided that murder is okay in some cases and not others.

How is this different than King Ahaz burning his sons in fire as sacrifices to a foreign god (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron 28:3, 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Chron 28:1)?

(For more on King Ahaz, read the “What God Said About the Jew Who Did Not Value Children” section of my blog post “Abortion & the Bible.”)

A good friend of mine has a lot to say about this. I’ve asked her to be my guest blogger in January, which is Sanctity of Human Life month, so stay tuned!

I look forward to reading more of Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story with you tomorrow.

In Christ,

Cheryl

PS: Here is the link to my son’s He Said/She Said blog post titled, “My First Flight on a 777.”

An Introduction to Luke (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Dear Christian Sisters,

One of the reasons that I love the books of Luke and Acts is that I imagine that Luke (who wrote both books) was an investigative reporter.

Dr. Luke, Investigative Reporter

Luke is a doctor whom Paul likely sought out for his eye problems. (Why do I think Paul had problems with his eyes? I’ll tell you—after you finish reading this introduction to the book of Luke!)

Paul likely shared the gospel with Luke, since he shared the gospel with everyone he met. Luke then began traveling with Paul, taking care of him, and recording everything that happened.

You can tell that Luke entered the story at Acts 16:9 because he switches from 3rd person in verse 8 to 1st person in verse 10. (Read Acts 16:8-10 for yourself. Note “they” in verse 8 and “we” in verse 10.)

Although Luke wasn’t an eyewitness to Jesus life, we know from Luke 1:1-4 (quoted above) that he interviewed eyewitnesses and wrote down their stories.

The Christmas Story in Matthew

The story of Jesus’ birth is told in two of the gospels: Matthew and Luke. The story as told in the book of Matthew is pretty short and seems to be told from the perspective of Joseph. How did Matthew hear the story? Good question!

We don’t read anything about Joseph after Jesus was 12 years old, so Matthew probably did not have the opportunity to ask Joseph. However, given that Matthew lived near Nazareth, he likely knew the rumors.

My guess is that he asked Jesus, Mary, and Mary’s other children to confirm the rumors. (BTW, I have not researched this question. This is my own guess as to how Matthew found out the details of Jesus’ birth.)

The Christmas Story in Luke

The Christmas story as told in the book of Luke is longer and seems to be told from the perspective of Mary. [Women tell longer, more detailed stories, don’t they? :-)] I imagine that Luke met Mary, mother of Jesus, while traveling with Paul, interviewed her, and then wrote her story in what we call chapters 1 and 2.

So, I like to think of the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke as Mary’s story.

I find Mary to be very brave, certainly more brave than me. Join me daily for insights into the Christmas story and Mary’s bravery as we read the scriptures together.

Evidence that Paul Had Eye Problems

Are you still curious about Paul’s eyes? Well, here are verses that support the idea that Paul had eye problems.

The Road to Damascus

At Paul’s conversion, famously referred to as “The Road to Damascus” because he was traveling to the city of Damascus when it happened, Paul was struck blind in his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:8). He was blind for 3 days and then something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see (Acts 9:9, 17-18).

Paul Writes to the Galatians

At the end of his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “See what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” (Galatians 6:11). This is one of the few letters that he penned himself rather than dictating to someone else who served as his secretary. Presumably, he wrote large letters so that he could see what he was writing.

Earlier in Galatians, Pauls says that the Galatians did not despise or loathe his bodily condition (Galatians 4:14), which indicates that his physical challenge was easily visible, so perhaps his eyes did not look normal.

I Have Eye Problems, Too!

Ha! I can relate to that! I was born with my left eye closed. I’ve had four surgeries to open it up. As a result, it doesn’t like to close. My right eye acts normally. The result? I wink at everyone!

God works everything out for good, though. Russ thought I was flirting with him and asked me out on a date!

Paul Can’t See the High Priest

One final thought on Paul having had eye problems. In Acts 23, Paul is defending himself against the Jewish council and speaks harshly to the high priest (Acts 23:1-5), whom he should have recognized since the high priest gave him letters to take to Damascus (Acts 9:2).

But all of my conjecture about Paul’s eyesight is just interesting trivia to spark conversation while enjoying your coffee.

I look forward to you joining me again as we continue to read the Christmas story in the gospels of Luke and Matthew while gleaning insights into just how brave Mary was.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Lies about Sex vs the Bible: #1—Everyone Else Does It!

Dear Christian Sisters,

We cannot talk about abortion without talking about sex–the very thing that results in crisis pregnancies.

If we were to follow what the Bible says about sex, we would have far fewer women and men considering abortion because we would have far fewer crisis pregnancies.

NOTE: Please remember that I am not writing from my pedestal. I, too, have had premarital sex, which you already know if you’ve read my story (see Faces of Abortion and Forgiveness & Peace that Passes All Understanding).

Keep reading this series to find out how I dealt with my sin and why it’s important for you to deal with yours, too, even if you never got pregnant or never had an abortion.

What the Bible Says about Sex

Do we know what the Bible says about sex? Do we know what the New Testament says?

Most of us had sex before we got married. It’s what we do here in the United States whether we’re Christian or not. It’s the culture. We live in a sex culture.

New Christians under the rule of Rome also lived in a sex culture. Sex was often part of the Gentiles’ worship of gods.

They didn’t slither into a brothel like people do today (of course, it’s unlawful here). They openly went to the temple to worship their gods by having sex with temple prostitutes.

When Gentiles began believing that Jesus was their Savior, some Jewish Christians said that the Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and follow all the Jewish laws.

This was a big debate! Paul and Barnabas brought this debate to the Apostles, including Peter, and the elders. You can read the drama in Acts 15.

James, the half brother of Jesus, gave a speech that convinced those who had gathered for the debate that Gentile believers should not feel burdened (Acts 15:13-20).

They then sent a letter to the Gentile believers letting them know that they did not need to follow Jewish Law–except to:

“abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication” (Acts 15:29).

Fornication? What is Fornication?

The sexual acts that are included in fornication are the forbidden sexual acts listed in Jewish Law (mostly Leviticus):

  • adultery
  • homosexuality
  • lesbianism
  • intercourse with animals
  • sexual intercourse with close relatives
  • sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman

For a complete list of Old Testament laws about sex, go to the Gospel Outreach page and scroll down to #330.

In the list of Old Testament Laws about sex, did you notice that God didn’t just say, “Men, only have sex with your one wife” and “Women, only have sex with your one husband”?

We people are so hard-headed that He had to give specifics, like “don’t have sex with your sister or half-sister.”

This is a good reminder of our sinful nature. It’s also a reminder that we need to teach each other the specifics of what fornication includes.

In the World, Not of the World

We may live in the world that embraces the sex culture, but we are called by God to not live like the world. (Ephesians 4:22-24; John 15:19, 17:14-16; Romans 12:2)

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality*; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5

[*Sexual immorality in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 is translated from the Greek porneia. Porneia is translated to immorality, sexual immorality, unchastity, and fornication in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).]

Teach Them the Way They Should Go

Let us also remember as mothers, aunts, and leaders that we are called to teach our children.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Let us consider how to inspire one another to love and good deeds, encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

In Christ,

Cheryl

Forgiveness & Peace that Passes All Understanding

Dear Christian Sisters,

In my previous blog post, I told you my story—what led up to my abortion and how it resulted in more bad choices.

In retrospect, I can tell you that my abortion brought darkness over my life. I turned my back on God, I murdered my baby, and I continued to make bad decisions of staying with the baby daddy—living with him, buying a house with him, and then marrying him (the wrong order!).

It wasn’t until after the baby daddy divorced me that I found the love of Christ shown practically by Russ. I had great joy!

But I also felt convicted that having an abortion is wrong.

Thankfully, the forgiveness that comes from Christ is freeing. We should never put the heaviness of guilt back onto a woman.

As sinners, we can have the peace of Christ in all circumstances, but we have to seek the Holy Spirit to get it.

When I first told my story in front of a large group, which was at my adult baptism, I quoted a bible verse. The Lord gave it to me right as I was speaking. I didn’t know where it was in the Bible at that time, but today, I can tell you that it’s in the Bible in two places:

  • in Psalm 51, which is THE BEST chapter on confessing our sins and feeling the love of God’s forgiveness, and
  • in Isaiah 1.

In Psalm 51, King David is confessing his sin of murder to the Lord. In verses 2 and 3, he says:

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.”

In verse 7 is the freeing verse. The verse that is echoed in Isaiah 1:18.

“Purify me and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

If you, too, are post-abortive, read Psalm 51 as if you wrote it yourself. Mean it. Then you, too, will feel the love of God’s forgiveness. Once you feel whiter than snow, you will feel light!

I exchanged my story for His story. You can, too.

Even if you have not had an abortion, you probably have life challenges We ALL have things going on behind these faces—things that are difficult.

  • Some of us have difficult marriages.
  • Some of us have significant illnesses.
  • Some of us have difficult relationships with
    • adult children,
    • extended family or
    • coworkers.

We all have stress.

But we can all have the peace of Christ, peace that passes all understanding.

How do I know?

Because I have two siblings. Both of them have schizophrenia.

Shortly after I accepted Christ, we figured out that my brother also has schizophrenia. I remembered how I left the church when things got hard with my sister 15 years earlier.

I remember all too well how darkness fell over my life because I made really bad decisions, like:

  • premarital sex and
  • abortion and
  • living with my boyfriend and
  • marrying the wrong guy,

because I was angry at God—So I made a conscious decision to press into the church when my brother got sick and then became homeless.

Not that the church knew what to do with schizophrenia, but:

  • They knew how to pray.
  • They knew how to have healthy relationships within the family.
  • They had referral lists for Christian counseling—and I needed counseling!

My brother was homeless for 2 years. How he was admitted into the hospital, I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know. But he did get diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then through social workers, got an apartment.

The medicine never fully worked, but at least he had a roof over his head.

Until a year ago.

Now if you’ve ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” then you have an inkling of what my brother is like. He’s a genius. The schizophrenia medication dulls his genius.

He went from spending all his time in the library reading books on computational linguistics and grading papers for a professor who taught Mandarin to someone who sits around all day doing nothing.

Not only does he know Mandarin, but Hebrew and Aramaic. He could have a PhD in linguistics, but he’s too smart and too bored to finish his freshman humanities paper to even get his bachelor’s degree.

And a year ago, he left his apartment back in Minnesota and traveled to Boston. He didn’t tell anyone.

It took a month for my dad to figure out that my brother had left and where he had gone. It took 3 more months to get confirmation from the police that he was really in Boston.

When my dad reached out to him, my brother left Boston. We think he went to Washington, DC. My mom lives with me, and she and I talk about this all he time. My brother must not realize how close we live to DC, but he would never seek us out. He literally closed the door on my face a couple years ago. He doesn’t want to see me.

And now we have no idea whether he is in DC or went back to Boston or has moved on to someplace else.

And even though I am very sad that my brother is off of his medication, that he is homeless again, and that he doesn’t want to see me, I still have hope, and I still have peace.

How?

Last year when I found out that my brother was missing, I started praising God while I was crying. In my homeschool group, we sing the Doxology, which has been a comforting return to my church upbringing.

So I’ve been singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”—and as a result, I have grown closer and closer to the Lord. I feel peace even though I’m sad.

I felt peace as I worked alongside my dad and my nephew as we cleaned out my brother’s apartment (a day that felt like a funeral).

  • Peace has returned to my marriage and my home.
  • I had absolute peace about quitting my job last spring.
  • I had peace about homeschooling my teenager this year.
  • I have peace about not having a second income even though our expenses went up this year.
  • I had peace about my husband having hip surgery this summer, and I have peace about his upcoming knee surgery.

In my previous life, all these life circumstances would’ve stressed me out. But now, every day, I seek more of the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 11 after Jesus’s says “knock and it will be opened to you” (verses 9-10), he says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (verse 13).

And I’ve been asking.

You know what we get when we have more of the Holy Spirit? We get the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

So, I say to you today,

  • confess your sins—big and small—so that you can be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7),
  • ask for more of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) so that you can have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7), and
  • go make Christ appealing to every Gentile and every Jew you meet so that they want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:19-20).

In Christ,

Cheryl

Faces of Abortions OR Call Me a Missionary to McDonald’s

Dear Christian Sisters,

People’s lives are messy.

The circumstances surrounding a woman’s decision to abort are messy.

We need to be the love of Christ to women in their messiness. We are responsible for the Great Commission, and we should think of these women as potential disciples.

Who I am Today

Because most of you don’t know me, let me paint a picture of who I am today. I am married to an evangelical Christian man, Russ, who helps support the airlines so their planes stay in the air and not on the ground—which I know you all appreciate.

I have 2 boys school-age boys—one with Aspergers and one with ADHD. They were in public school until recently, and now I homeschool them both.

I have a bachelors degree in technical communication, and I nearly finished my master’s degree in instructional technology. Before I decided to stay home to raise boys, I was a project manager leading teams to create web-based training for big corporations like Target, Northwest Airlines, and 3M.

A couple years ago, I went back into the workforce at our church until this year when I chose to stay home to homeschool my high schooler.

I am on the prayer team, I am in bible study class Sunday mornings, and I am in a special needs moms’ small group—although I have to admit that my kids’ special needs are so much easier than all my girlfriends’ kids.

But what I love about that group is that they understand that life is hard.

Because, you see, my home while in high school was not easy.

Well, it started easy. I am the spoiled youngest of three. My sister and brother are a bit older than me, so when I was done with 5th grade, they were both off at college, and I was the spoiled only child.

Living in a Home Tormented with Schizophrenia

But in the middle of 10th grade, my sister and her 6-month-old baby boy came home for Christmas and never left. Her husband had left her because she had a mental illness that he couldn’t handle.

Suddenly, I was the neglected middle child.

This situation led to a lot of arguing in my house. As some of you know, having three generations living in the same house is challenging because parents and grandparents don’t always agree on how to raise the child, so you have that natural tension.

Now add a mother who is not doing basic things for her child because she can’t think straight, because she is hearing voices that aren’t there.

It took two years for the doctors to diagnose my sister. She has paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is different than multiple personalities disorder. With schizophrenia, you hear voices and have hallucinations. For my sister, she had a “friend” that she talked to in gibberish while pacing. Evidently her “friend” was funny because she would talk and talk and talk, listen, and then laugh.

The priority in my parents’ house was my nephew. And rightly so.

But I didn’t get the attention that I needed as a teenage girl.

My parents missed a musical that I was in because of my sister. They made the best out of a difficult situation, but I was hurt, and my defenses went up.

My parents didn’t ask me about my day or what I was doing at school, so I stopped telling them.

My parents didn’t ask me why I was upset about friendships, so I didn’t share anything with them.

And then I met a guy.

Spending time with him was so much more peaceful than listening to my toddler nephew whine at the dinner table, my mom correct him, and my sister get upset about my mom “interfering” with her parenting—you know, the parenting that she wasn’t doing.

I was home for dinner, but only because my parents required it. I hated being at the dinner table.

But as soon as dinner was over, I took my homework to my boyfriend’s place.

Now, are any of you surprised that I got pregnant?

It was the end of my junior year in high school. Having lived with my nephew for a couple years and all the fighting that happened around parenting him, I had NO interest in raising a child.

I was busy with extracurriculars at school:

  • I was first chair alto saxophone player in the band.
  • I was editor of the high school newspaper.
  • I was a straight-A student.

I did not want the burden of a pregnancy and most especially did not want to see the disapproving looks or hear the disapproving comments of my classmates or my teachers. So I decided to have an abortion.

My mom was so stressed out about my sister and my nephew that my decision to have an abortion seemed like a relief to her.

My dad was distraught, but he never said anything to me until after the abortion. Then he realized that he needed counseling more than I did. I was fine.

My dad was the church choir director. He still is today. He just turned 80, and I’m certain that he will be the choir director until the day he dies.

My mom was a former church organist. She’s a preacher’s kid. She volunteered for everything at church, including leading the children’s choir and teaching Sunday school. Today, she plays handbells at her church.

I had been a leader in the church youth group. I could’ve been the president of the youth group the following year, but Mom and I convinced Dad to leave the church.

This was shortly before I got pregnant. We were so stressed out at home, and our pastor made our church work even more stressful. No one was helping us deal with my sister’s schizophrenia—or at least I didn’t think they were.

Church was a burden. So we left.

In the dozen years that followed, I—

  • lived with my boyfriend,
  • bought a house with him, and
  • married him–in that order. The wrong order.

It was a one-sided marriage in that I loved him, but he didn’t love me—but I didn’t believe in divorce.

I didn’t think that he believed in divorce, either, but after 13 years together, 9 of which we were married, he decided he wanted a divorce.

About a year and a half later, I found the love of Christ. My husband, Russ, is the hero in my salvation story.

We don’t have enough time for me to tell you all those details, but in short, when we met—

  • I was politically liberal,
  • pro-choice,
  • very skeptical of evangelicals, and
  • I was sure that my politically conservative, evangelical boyfriend would be scared away by my abortion.

He wasn’t. He loved me anyway. He showed me the love of Christ.

And it was because Russ showed me the love of Christ through his acceptance and love of me that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Faces of Abortion

Now, I want you to stop and think about how you picture the faces of women who have had abortions. Did you picture me?

The angry women that you see in the pro-choice movement are probably faces of abortion. They are faces of pain. They are faces of messy lives.

This last winter, I went on a mission trip through church to Uganda where I had a life-changing conversation with one of the pastors about abortion in Africa and in the United States.

Since returning, the Lord has made it clear that I am to change the conversation about abortion.

Knowing that I was going to go public with my abortion online, I began telling my family and friends so that they would hear about my abortion from me and not by reading it online.

In the process, I have found out that some of my friends have had abortions, too. Turns out that their lives have not been so perfect, either.

You don’t know how many of the faces you see every day belong to women who have had abortions. Have they experienced the love of Christ through you?

Or have they heard judgment as you comment on all the pro-choice mantra that comes from “liberal media” or the Women’s March?

What the Great Commission Means

We seem to forget that the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) was told to us disciples, that we are responsible for the Great Commission. When we hear the Great Commission, we hear “go to all nations”…

…but we forget that “nations” means ethnic groups. We forget that Jesus, a Jew Himself, made the Great Commission while in Israel, talking to Jews. He was telling them to make disciples of all the Gentiles—us.

The U.S. is the melting pot of nations, of ethnic groups. The Great Commission is meant for us—as well as all other nations.

Yes, some people are called to go on mission trips. I am. You might not be. But all of us are called to think of every trip

  • to work,
  • to the grocery store,
  • to the drive thru

as a mission trip.

[For more on the Great Commission, read my blog post, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”]

Missionary to McDonald’s

For example, my Sunday morning routine includes going through the McDonald’s drive thru. Now, before you judge our eating habits, know that this quick breakfast allows me to do my prayer walk, take the dog for a run, and get everyone out the door for church without fighting.

There are two women who are usually working in the drive thru–Susan and Gloria. Susan is from India. Gloria is Hispanic. My goal every Sunday morning is to make them smile because I’m sure that they get many grumpy customers. Besides, they got up at 5 am to make breakfast so that I don’t have to.

One day, I hope to have a relationship that allows me to share the gospel. That’s my prayer.

Call me a missionary to McDonald’s!

Share the Love of Christ

So I urge you to share the love of Christ wherever you go. You have no idea what is going on behind those faces.

Your job is to make Christ appealing to them so that others want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior—even if those others are pro-choice.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl