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.