Life Verse

. . .He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. . .(Isaiah 61:3)

Friday, October 26, 2012

What will you choose?

My friend Maribeth knows about life and death.  Every day, life turns in her womb.  Active, living, tiny little Abbie Ann- safe inside her mother's warmth.  And yet, in the same breath that a birth plan is discussed- plan for a photographer, visits to the hospital- there's also the plan for furneral arrangements.  A real possibility, a real option, for Maribeth knows, sweet little Abbie is sick.  And everyday, Maribeth prays and pleads for life, while death has become real and tangible

For the rest of us, it's rare to think about death on a daily basis.  Bills, kids, schedules, ball games, fights with our spouse, church life consume our thoughts.  And yet, isn't our purpose supposed to spring from our perspective of life and death?  Does our behavior during our daily mundane activities reflect how we feel about life and death?

Are we aware that these little moments, strung together either with frustration or laughter, reflect our attitude about Eternity?

My friend, Dawn reminded me of this on Facebook the other day-

"Good and evil increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." (C.S. Lewis)
A word of encouragement to your child struggling in science= LIFE.

A word of frustration to your husband about a $2 coffee= DEATH.

Getting in the slow lane at Publix to talk to the 75 year old cashier= LIFE.

Grace given to the irritated co-worker=LIFE.

Maribeth sees all this now, clearly, sharply focused through the lense of a yet unborn, yet very loved baby girl.  I'm sure she struggles with the "what if's" and the "why us", but instead, I see eternity written on her face.  She knows "all things will be counted for good for those who are called according to His purpose".   

She sees the victory in the small battles- finding a better doctor, feeling the peace of God rest on her family, knowing that her Savior loves Abbie Ann more than she could ever fathom.

In Deuteronomy 30:19, we are reminded that life and death, blessing and cursing, are set before us as CHOICES.  In loving God, we have the ability to hand out life and death, blessing and cursing, to those around us. 

You see, we have to understand, like Maribeth now understands, that physical life and death are out of our control, but the things that are UNSEEN, the things that are ETERNAL, lay before us as at our bidding. 

It's in the little things, in the raw and honest moments of our own failings and battles, we can purpose to love, breathe life and gift a small piece of heaven to those we encounter everyday. . . it's our choice.

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal".  (2 Cor. 4:18)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


"For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.  And His mercy is on those who fear Him. . " (From the Song of Mary, Luke 1:49-50)

During my pregnancy I continued to attend my church in San Diego.  I vowed that once I started to "show", I would stop going.  It would just be way too embarassing and way too many questions to answer.  You see, the father of my baby was one of the pastor's son- and his family would just as soon forget that I had ever dated their son, and, oops, oh know, gotten herself pregnant.  My boyfriend broke up with me soon after we knew the abortion didn't work.  It's a harsh reality of life that we as believers have a hard time accepting- we all run like the prodigal son at some point in our lives.  Whether you sit in the pew or preach from the pulpit, sin can sometimes be too real and too ugly for us.  We forget the God of mercy and light desires to free us from our ugly chains and make all those desolate places beautiful again.

I remember in the early days after the abortion, attending church, singing along with the worship music, wanting so badly to be healed, forgiven and restored to His fellowship.  The choir began to sing that familiar song. . .

"Oh Lord, you're beautiful
Your grace is all I see
And when Your eyes are on this child
Your grace abounds to me. . ."

I wept and rushed to the altar to kneel and soak in the waves of forgiveness and freedom that I felt in that instant.  Whatever happened, I knew that my Savior had made me new, and like the unborn child in my womb, I had a beginning at life that was unexpected and undeserved, yet gladly received and celebrated.

And so, I started to blossom, both in my heart and in my belly.  At this time, the college pastor's wife, Danice, took me under her wing.  She too, was pregnant with their first child and we became pregnancy buddies.  I found my place among the college and career kids, even though I was only 16.  Danice loved me with no judgment or condemnation, instead she made my pregnancy joyful and unashamed.  I grew bigger and bigger, and so did my circle of supporters at church.  I was in love with Jesus and in love with Danice and in love with all these wonderful "grown-ups" who became the hands and feet of Jesus.

At this time I had taken off from my first semester of my senior year- I had been a total nerd all through high school and had enough credits to take off a semester and still graduate with my class.  I hung out with my new friends, volunteered to feed the homeless and fell more in love with the new life inside me. 

One week I spent volunteering at a camp for foster kids who had been returned to their parents.  The week was a chance for the kids to learn about Jesus, and it gave their parents a little break.  The kids all arrived completely lice-ridden.  They were clingy, disobedient and out of control.  I fell in love with all of them instantly.  I totally related to how they felt!  (Later in life, God would bring two very special foster kids into my life to love again.  There are no coincidences with Him, and very often He sows seed that blossoms right on time, 15 years later!)

The camp was sponsored by a prominent San Diego family who owned among other things, the "Jack in the Box" chain.  The wife, Mary Goodall, was at the camp all week, digging in and helping out as much as the rest of teenagers.  One morning it was my turn to clean toilets, so I waddled on down to do my part.  I arrived to find sweet Mrs. Goodall, on her hands and feet scrubbing the toilets.  She insisted that I not scrub any toilets- that I needed to rest and grow my baby.  I was shocked.  Here was this extremely wealthy woman who could've given her money to sponsor the camp and everyone would applaud her generosity.  But she went one step further, and volunteered to love on these kids.  Then, she scrubbed toilets for one freshly-redeemed, pregnant 16-year old girl. 

I was loving where God had brought me, but reality soon came crashing down on me.  This baby was growing, and my mom knew it was time to have the hard conversation about "what next".  I was adament that I was going to raise this child.  My mom reminded me of my current situation- no boyfriend/husband, no job, no high school diploma.  Also, she made it clear that this was my baby to raise, and my parents would only help as grandparents.  She was being tough because she had to- I needed to look at my future and make a good decision for my baby.  I agreed to talk to an adoption counselor and consider it as an option.

That was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. 

Death to life, orphaned to adopted, broken to restored, curses to blessings. . . this is the story of our life in Christ.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I knew this wasn't over. . .

"I would have surely perished, had I not seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

My mom and I were speechless. 

Sometimes, God meets us with mercy in those times when we don't even know how to pray for it. 

Sometimes God gives us a gift, a do-over, a second, third, fourth, fifth chance, in that very moment when we really don't deserve it.  What I deserved was judgment. . .what I got was mercy.  One of my first questions to God when I get to heaven is "Why me??"  Why did He choose to save my child over all the millions who have been aborted? God would give me the answer, in part, to this question 20 years later.  But for now, I needed to know- what now?

And that was the very question the obstetrician asked me and my mom as we stared at the ultrasound screen, "Do you want to have another abortion?"  My mom looked at her with horror and said, "Absolutely not!" 

We hightailed it out of there- in shock, but relieved. . .thankful. . .mystified.  We came home to tell Pop the news.  He sat on his bed and started weeping.  His words revealed who had been pleading mercy for me, when I didn't know how.  Pop looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I knew this wasn't over."

What unfolded over the next several days and weeks was the process of talking through the logistics of what had happened and what should happen in the future.  We were all the "walking wounded"- thankful beyond words to be given a second chance, but heavy-hearted to face the next 6 months as a pregnant teenager- and the parents of a pregnant teenager.

I was intent on knowing what had actually occured that day in the abortion clinic. . .did the doctor know that the abortion had "failed"?  Did these "medical professionals" have any idea of the risk they put a 16-year-old girl into- infection, permanent sterility, even death?  I had to know.

I marched into the abortion clinic days later and demanded two things- my medical records and my $200.  Looking back, I have no idea why I asked for my money back, except that maybe I thought I would need it to care for my unborn child.  The clinic workers quickly gave me both- I was furious and they wanted me out of there quickly.  I was bad press for the other girls waiting in the room.

I took my records to my new OB (not one whose hands deliver life and death), so he could confirm what I already knew to be true.  The abortion had completely failed- no tissue had been delivered out of my uterus. 

Blood had been shed, but a life had been spared.

I was a witness to an honest-to-goodness miracle, straight from the heart of God.  My mind quickly formed a picture of my unborn child, with the hand of God cupped around her, protecting her from the foolishness and destruction of my actions.  Mercy, grace, redemption and victory were all wrapped up in the tiny body of one unborn child.  And it was all because of another child, born into this fallen world, who shed His blood so we could be spared from the grotesqueness of our sins.

I felt like I was 5 again, watching the sunlight streaming in through the window.  And in that moment, God begin to heal my shattered heart.  His banner over me was Love and I was amazed at the goodness of my Father. 

It was then that I begin to do what I should have done all along- seek my Father's will for my unborn child.  Do I keep her and try to raise her as a teenage mom?  Do I give her up for adoption?

The next couple of months would be the unfolding of more miracles, where God would lead me, my family and people I didn't even know, into the land of His goodness. . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I remember so clearly accepting Jesus into my heart at the age of 5.  I was playing in my bedroom (we were living in the ultra-hippy town of Ashland, Oregon) and the sun was shining so brightly through my window.  It struck me that God's presence was in my room- I could feel His warmth and love envelop me.  I immediately asked to be His.  There was no question.  I knew only love and acceptance and felt perfectly at home in His company.  It's the earliest intimate moment with God I remember experiencing. . . .

"Their intelligence has been shrouded in darkness, and they are estranged from the life of God, because of the ignorance in them, which in turn comes from resisting God's will."  (Eph. 4:18, Complete Jewish Bible)
The next several weeks were dark- the Great Fog prevented me from truly absorbing what I had done to myself, to my unborn child.  I nursed my wounded body, took my birth control pills and tried to return to the everyday 16-year-old world of high school. 
One translation of SIN is "parabasis- transgression with a suggestion of violence".  That was certainly a true description of how many body and soul felt after the abortion- an act of violence had been surely perpetrated against it.  What's worse, I was throwing up all the time- a side affect of the birth control pills, I was told.
My boyfriend and I were uneasy in each other's presence.  It's as if the sight of each other was a constant reminder of what was no longer. . and our Sin.  We were like Adam and Eve, once they discovered their nakedness, and really their own human condition.  We made each other cringe.
I was ready to get back into the swing of things- drinking, partying, whatever.  I made plans one Friday night a few weeks after the abortion to spend the night at a girlfriend's house. That's what I told my parents anyway.  Instead, I was headed to a hotel party, with my boyfriend, and other friends.  Finally, a time to let loose, forget about my troubles.  I'm sure the Bartles and Jaymes would totally help my quesiness too.
One of the "side affects" of being saved and baptized, and having Godly, praying parents, is that the Holy Spirit will at some point, intercede.  On that Friday night, the Holy Spirit woke my mom and clearly told her where to look in my room, to find all of the evidence of my activities.  There she found the paperwork from the abortion and my birth control pills.  A phone call was made quickly to my girlfriend, who was furiously lying for me to cover my tracks.  The message was made clear- "wherever Elisha was, make sure she gets home now." 
I was met at my house by my two very angry, beyond-hurt parents.  My poor parents, who had watch me at the age of 12 get baptized in water and by the Holy Spirit -found out in one night that their daughter had been having sex, had gotten pregnant, had an abortion and was now on birth control pills.  Angry and shameful words were hurled, from both sides of the fence. 
I let the Great Fog keep me from feeling the enormity of the situation.  My heart had become hard and black, like the bottom of a deep, dark well.  I was "fine" with my decisions.  I wasn't backing down.  My mom was horrified to hear the name of the abortionist- she immediately scheduled an appointment for me with her doctor to make sure I was ok.  I would find out later that abortions can leave you at risk to never get pregnant again, can open up your body to infection and other complications. 
I didn't read that fine print.
The doctor's appointment felt like the funeral service for my baby.  Let's make sure you're fine- that the abortionist did a complete job and you weren't injured in any way by your actions.  I told the doctor I was throwing up- the birth control pills must be too strong for me.  She immediately ordered a pregnancy test.  That shocked me- why would you do that?  She then gently explained that tissue, or a part, could've been left behind in my uterus, tricking my body into thinking I was still pregnant.  I wasn't nauseous from the Pill, I was having morning sickness. 
Wait. . .tissues??? Parts???? My mind was spinning- thank God I was already laying down.  The clinic worker's voice came back to haunt me. . .just a cluster of cells. . . nothing to be concerned about.  Liar.
The pregnancy test came back positive.  The only way to know what was left behind was to do an ultrasound- another invasive procedure into my already hurting body.  My mom held my hand and as I tried to remember that this didn't affect me and I didn't care. 
The doctor turned the screen towards us and there we saw what had been "left behind".  A perfectly alive baby, with a beating heart.  About 10 weeks old.  There was no question this was the baby I had tried to kill. 
Then, the Great Fog lifted, and I wept, because what I thought was dead, was in fact, alive. . . .

Monday, February 21, 2011

Murderer. . .

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. . "

The Great Fog lifted me out of the clinic that day and down the road to my boyfriend's house, where I gave him the shocking news.  We were both raised by Godly parents, to live by the precepts of Scripture, and yet at that moment we could not fathom telling our parents of our sins, and the physical consequence that was now growing inside my belly.  What's worse, my boyfriend's dad was a pastor at a large church in San Diego, where I also attended church.  The weight of what we had done landed on both of us and neither one of could comprehend anything other than "making it all go away".  Where was all the Godly teaching we had received growing up?  We both knew and understood that God was the originator of life, that His love could cover any sin, that we had been bought with a price.  Like those who had gone before us, we bought into the lie, that our actions were unforgiveable, that the love that God and our parents had for us was conditional and based on our performance and actions.  The Deceiver whispered condemnation and death in my ear. . .

"You can't tell your parents. They will think you are horrible and this situation will make you unworthy of their love."

"You can't be the pregnant girl at school.  Then, everyone will KNOW."

"You can't have this baby, who's not really even a baby.  Remember, just a clump of cells."

So, we made a plan.  We would split the $200 fee 50/50.  My girlfriend would take me during school, so my parents wouldn't know.  And we would never speak of it again.
I had convinced myself there was no other option. . .the alternatives sent me deeper into the Great Fog.  And so I went, on that sunny San Diego day, to the non-descript building off the 805 freeway.  I remember thinking, I had no idea this was an abortion clinic.  How would I know that? Why would I even care?  And yet, here I was, ready to do the unspeakable, to get rid of the unspeakable. 

The waiting room was filled with girls just like me.  Ashamed.  Nervous.  Scared.  Ready to be done with all this.  The Great Fog helped me hand over the $200 to the lady at the counter. I took my seat and waited for name to be called.  I thought of nothing but being done.  I read through the paperwork and the warnings of a vacuum extraction.  None of it registered or applied to me. . .numbness was my friend and I could feel the stone settle into my heart, like sinking to the bottom of a pool.

Death waited for me in that cold, sterile room. . .

While I laid there, I started weeping.  The assistant asked me why I was crying.  Why?  I don't know why. . .

. . .because it hurts way more than I thought it would.

. . .because I knew I was killing my baby and I couldn't stop it.

. . .because I could feel the presence of the enemy so strongly and the Great Fog was starting to suffocate me.

The abortionist, Dr. Dym, emptied my uterus of its "contents", which were now safely concealed in those strange, fabric and lace covered canisters.  He gave me a pat on the leg and told me I was going to be just fine, and walked out of the room.  I never saw him again.

When the abortion was over, I was given paperwork for how to "take care of myself" (because I had done such a spectacular job so far), a prescription for birth-control pills and an appointment for a check-up in 2 weeks.  I knew one thing for sure, I was never coming back to that place again.

But in the next couple weeks, I would be reminded once again that nothing passes by the eyes of God, that it is truly His kindness that brings us to repentance, and He will only allow us to travel so far in our sin before He brings us back to His side.

And the girl who murdered her baby would be brought to that decision once again, this time with miraculous results. . .

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The beginning was fuzzy, but the ending was clear. . .

Like anyone else, there's no good starting point to this kind of story.  Do I start in my childhood- raised by loving, Godly, albeit hippy, parents.  Or do I start with those agonizing middle-school years, taunted by short middle-school boys who preyed upon the insecurities of curly-haired, near-sighted smart girls?? Or maybe it goes back even further. . to a dark past of sexual abuse by a family friend and being awakened to a world that no young girl should ever know. . .

Wherever the beginning, there was no denying my circumstances and the surreal surrounding, laying on an exam table, watching the "contents" of my fragile 16-year-old uterus being vacuumed out into doily covered canisters.  I remember thinking, "Seriously, does the lace and fabric make this place any better??"  Because one thing I surely knew, this was a place of death and everything in me was crying out, including my cramping uterus, fighting to save the tiny living being inside it. . .

Sitting in the Planned Parenthood clinic, pregnancy was the farthest thing from my mind.  I needed the Pill- stat.  A little late, granted, but, hey, I'd been safe up until this point. . .sorta.  I had entered into the coveted world I'd always wanted- cute linebacker boyfriend from the neighboring high school (whose love I thought I had secured by giving up the precious gift of my virginity.)  My girlfriend and sat discussing the details of the weekend, while we waited for my prescription to be filled, after the mandatory pregnancy test gave the "all clear".  Plans were forming for meeting up at the local 7-11 to find the next great party, and a possible set up for my girlfriend and my boyfriend's best friend.  How fun it would be if that all worked out and we could double date???  Anyway, no thought was given to the thought that I might possibly be preggers. . .except that all the clinic workers kept looking at my test sitting on the counter, then looking at us and walking quickly away.  We both quickly realized this was taking way too long, and those clinic workers had a scary look on their faces.  We got quiet and held hands.  Finally,   no-name clinic worker sat in front of me and matter-of-factly told me what I had already begun to fear- I was pregnant.  And 16.  But, wait, didn't she know I was an honor student, with big plans for the weekend?

My options were made crystal clear.  The no-name CW informed me that if I wanted to keep the baby or consider adoption, there were some brochures in the rotating brochure-holder thingy at my disposal.  However, if I wanted an abortion, someone would be more than happy to talk to me.  Oh, and by the way, we don't have to tell your parents. And we can help you pay for it, if you don't have the money.  But wait, I must be about 6 weeks along by now. . .so what does that mean?  No worries- it's just a cluster of cells- nothing to even be concerned about.  The "procedure" would be easy, relatively pain-free, and oh, by the way, THEN you can start taking the Pill you came in here for in the first place. 

This is when the Great Fog, as I like to call it, set in. . .