Monthly Archives: January 2013

Recognizing the gifts we are given

About three months ago, while praying and meditating, it became clear to me that I needed to write a letter about getting involved. I had no idea at the time exactly what this meant or who would see it but I did what I was directed to do (as usual). I believe there is a purpose for this and have sent or given this letter to several people and organizations with zero response/feedback except from my two mentors in Shreveport. After hearing Ned’s post for today I wonder if you all are the ones to share this with. Pass it on if you so desire.

I grew up in an activist Pro-Life Family. Beginning in the late 60’s my Dad went to parishioners’ homes to give educational slide shows on abortion, which was about to become legal. He was president of Democrats for Life, yes Democrat politicians were able to be outwardly Pro-Life in those days. We lived and breathed Pro-Life in my home and my parents walked the walk. I am very grateful for this.There are many incredible stories about this, some miraculous and others tragic. When I left home for nursing school I remained Pro-Life in my beliefs but stayed on the periphery, participating in walks, attending masses, saying rosaries, and (rarely) picketing. Years later, married with 3 children, we found ourselves moving from St Louis to Dallas because of a job transfer. Our parish did not have a Pro-Life group and it was not the priority of our pastor to change this. With my busy life I did not want to take on this challenge. My husband and I, both still strongly opposed abortion, educated our children about this evil, but we did not walk the walk. I felt many emotions during this time of my life; anger, uneasiness, restlessness, and frustration. The Holy Spirit was working on me and God was preparing me for a radical shift.

 

Fast forward to 2009. My unemployed husband took a job in Shreveport. I was devastated and went unwillingly. While waiting to get my LA nursing license I decided I would begin volunteer sidewalk counseling. I was trained in Dallas about a month before we found out about the move and was disappointed when I learned they didn’t have sidewalk counselors in Shreveport. Most Pro-Lifers I talked to there were unfamiliar with it.. After an internet search my husband found the ARK-LA-TEX Crisis Pregnancy Center and gave me a gentle, yet firm push.

 

The love I felt when I walked through the door, from the receptionist and everyone else, was indescribable. As I sat in the waiting room it was apparent how important these women clients were. THEY came first not me, a possible volunteer! My life changed that day in ways I could never have imagined. After a quite lengthy application and interview process, along with much prayer and discernment, they accepted me! Never had I felt this way about any job for pay. I was going to have the privilege of volunteering to love and support women in a time of crisis in their lives. The bonus was that many babies lives were saved. I was working with other women who volunteered their time and and took their commitment seriously, some had volunteered for 10 years or longer. I could talk freely to our clients about how God loved them and their babies. I could speak the Gospel to them. Because I was a nurse I had the added bonus of being able to do health teaching and education about abortion and the adverse effects physical, emotional and spiritual. I  was able to chaperon about 70 ultrasounds – my favorite part. This window into the womb definitely changes the hearts of many expectant women when their babies sometimes wave or high five them.(I have pictures of both). If the pregnancy was early, just hearing the heartbeat would elicit a smile or sigh of relief. Sometimes the woman was shut down and there was no reaction. One young woman who was 23 weeks pregnant decided after her baby put on quite a performance that she did not want an abortion. But after leaving our clinic, was persuaded by a family member, who provided the funds, to have the abortion. These cases are heartbreaking. My Nurse Manager, Karen, wisely told me we can tell them and show them the truth and love and support them but it is God who changes their hearts. The programs at this center were comprehensive. They offered assistance to the expectant moms, who decided to carry and parent, at their learning center where they could take classes on nutrition, parenting, childbirth, finances, etc. and earn merit points to use for maternity clothes, baby clothes and other essential baby items. They could earn merit points for going to Church. The goal is to follow these women for 2 yrs. They did not only support them “from pregnancy to birth” as Pro-Lifers are sometimes criticized for. They also had certified Adoption specialists and they offered post abortion counseling for women who had abortions and were experiencing emotional side effects. After 8 months of volunteering I was offered a part time position as a nurse. The plan (my plan) was that I would complete training and do ultrasounds  for them.

 

God had a different plan. My husband’s job ended abruptly and he had to return to Dallas to find work. In the 10 months we were apart I continued to learn from, and be supported by, these amazing women. Having been “in the making” for 18 yrs they have been able to create a Center  that addresses all aspects of a crisis pregnancy and, with Gods grace, it is excellent. What did I learn? That we are in Spiritual warfare and God Blesses and protects his warriors. That the man who volunteered to clean the entire facility once a week and do all odd jobs and repairs was just as important as any other volunteer.He has been doing this consistently for at least 10 yrs. His wife called every night to get initials of clients we needed to add to her prayer chain. I learned that whatever your God given talent was it could be put to good use there, answering phones, babysitting in their nursery while the moms took classes, sorting donated baby items, knitting baby items and making baby quilts, working at the walk for life, computer programming, helping update the website, donating professional counseling sessions, driving a pregnant mom to a prenatal class, training to be a peer counselor or to teach a class. The list is long and the needs are great. The coolest part though is that the time commitment can be small. It’s just making and keeping the commitment. We are all one body, and in order for that body to function at it’s best all of its parts must be doing their job….no individual part is more important than the whole. We are the Body of Christ. We are his hands, we are his voice.

 

I am back in Dallas and God literally directed me to the right place at the right time. I have been given the opportunity to work at BirthChoice Counseling for Women, a Catholic pregnancy resource center in Dallas.They have been around for three years and are working hard to become centers of excellence.They have two locations directly across from abortion clinics, one being the late term (26wks) center. I did get trained to do sonograms and have had the privilege of performing those for a few weeks now.  I urge anyone who has experienced that nagging restlessness (the Holy Spirit?) to get involved in the Pro-Life movement in an active way, either by donating  your  time, talent or treasure. To learn about opportunities at BirthChoice, contact them at (214) 631-2402 or visit their Facebook page by clicking HERE, or contact the crisis pregnancy center nearest you.

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Why?

It’s a little after 4 in the morning and I’m awake on a Sunday. It’s hard to get used to sleeping in when you get up early for work every day. I’m sitting in the quiet thinking about why I’d want to enter a 340 mile race across the state of Missouri.

This is a project that really is pretty selfish. Once the weather warms up I’ll be out on White Rock Lake several evenings a week and most Saturdays getting in shape. That will continue until the end of July. My wife gives me the time for all this solitary activity and then, along with some friends, gives up a week to sit around isolated boat ramps waiting to take care of me in the race. Yeah, it’s selfish. Yet I’m a pretty social guy. I enjoy being around people and certainly don’t see myself as selfish. So, what’s the attraction for me of spending hours alone training and then days alone on the race?

I’ve found that this blog is a big part of it. Being able to share the adventure with so many of my friends – and people I don’t even know – and reading their comments to my posts is a tremendous motivator. The other big reason is the feeling that I’m doing something unselfish by promoting a good cause.

Sharon has had a dream of doing sonograms for a crisis pregnancy center for the last few years. A few months ago she found an opening at Birth Choice Dallas. They’re a non-profit, so money is always tight, and the cost of good training for her was a stretch for them. God answered her prayers from an unexpected source and a friend donated enough to pay for her classes. Unfortunately she’s only working 20 hours a week – and they have two locations. Do the math and you’ll understand that they need 3 more of her to fill the hours they’re open.

So, I’m in this thing for the personal challenge and getting the word out about the need. Don’t worry about me asking you for money. I figure that if a lot of people subscribe to this blog and “like” the Facebook page the donations will come in. My job isn’t to pick your pocket. I’ll just try to entertain you a bit and let you decide if this is a cause you want to back.

That’s it. I’m being selfish about a personal goal, I’m asking a lot of people to follow along from now until the end of July, and I’m praying that some of them decide this is a cause worth supporting.

Ned

To see the most recent post, click HERE

Marathon To Save His Life

A very close friend of ours is in the middle of a marathon none of us would choose to run, one to save his life.  He was diagnosed with a hideous type of tongue-throat cancer that involves an aggressive treatment and difficult recovery period.  He is getting to the end of the treatment phase and is experiencing the “normal” but horrible side effects expected and if I could guess what running a marathon was like, would guess he is at the throw in the towel phase or ” I am sick and tired of being sick and tired”.  Luckily his “ground crew” has run this marathon herself. Yes, his wife had liver cancer followed by a liver transplant over 10 yrs ago, and she won her race. You can’t find a more qualified ground crew than this. I have never done a marathon but I have been part of Ned’s ground crew when he did  his last MR340 race. When I visited this friend recently in the hospital, I observed his ground crews patience and gentle but firm prodding. She did not take his mood personally and was a calm, rational and strong presence. I saw a good  example of what a great ground crew can be. And like her, my friend is going to win his race. But for now, he has the best ground crew rooting for, supporting and loving him.

Another good friend of ours is in a marathon to get physically healthy, addressing some serious health conditions but, unlike my other friend, he had to stay “at the starting gate-so to speak” waiting to begin his race for months. He had to get in shape to even get the go ahead to begin. This type of powerlessness has many lessons learned but definitely is incredibly hard and frustrating. His ground crew is also one strong and faithful woman, who has put aside “life” to do what she needed to do for him and let the rest go for now. We don’t see these friends much anymore but they are always close in our hearts. They are good friends with our other friends and it is very hard for both not to be able to be there for each other the way they would like.

I think we all have our own personal marathons whether large or small and I guess my theme here is the importance of ground crew and friend support. It makes the race a whole lot easier. So while Ned continues to scheme and prepare for his marathon-he is waiting at the gate for a day over 70 degrees- to kick off the kayak training we are rallying our support. Please spread the word to everyone. we  want to be able to make a BIG difference in the lives of woman who may be starting a marathon of their own. The volunteers @ BirthChoice are their ground crew and we want to be ready and excellent. Our idea was conceived 12 weeks ago, 26 more weeks till we start the final Marathon.

Sharon

Started to write my part of this blog entry. But, I think Sharon has said it all.

Ned

Welcome to 2013

Most people stay up until midnight on December 31st to have a glass of bubbly and ring in the new year. Registration for the MR340 opens at midnight, so guess what I was doing.

It’s official. I’m entered. Now the planning starts and the workouts begin in earnest. The great news is that the teams are pretty well set up. For the 2013 MR340 it will be:

  • The White Rock Navy Captains: I’ll pilot WRN I (my 17 1/2 foot sea kayak) and Christian will be in his 20′ racing canoe, the WRN II.
  • Chief Communications Officer: Elisabeth has talked about flying in from California to see the race from the banks but, at least for now the plan is for her to handle communications. We’ll all keep her updated and she’ll post the news here on the blog.
  • The Seabees: I thought we’d call the ground crews marines but Tim says he doesn’t want to be a jar-head. Seabees they are, then. The Commanders will be Sharon and her sister, Katie Calandro for my effort. Sharon’s a  veteran of this stuff and Katie’s a first timer who’ll be great at it. Commanders Tim Murray and Glenn Horton are assigned to Christian’s boat. Tim’s the other veteran and I’m glad he’ll be along to take care of my son on this long race. Glenn, of course, will be there to take care of Tim.
  • The Shore Patrol: My sister Liz Kory and her friend Mary Adams will be along to pick up the pieces. They’re not assigned to either boat but will be prowling the checkpoints to see where they can help and/or where the most interesting things are happening.
  • Last but not least is Ensign Ben. We’re not sure what our grandson will be doing but…. we’ll think of some way he can contribute as we get ready. He’s one of my inspirations for this thing.

That’s it. Now we’ll spend the cold winter days trying to get back in shape, making lists of thing we’ll need, poring over maps, and thinking about what everyone will be responsible for when the gun goes off in KC and the race starts.

203 days till the gun goes off at Kaw Point.

Ned