Fickle Feelings You Have Failed Us

Today’s post was written by Brook Hills member and Small Group Leader, Kristi Kirkland.

I feel tired. I feel hungry. I feel irritated. I feel hurt. I feel frustrated. I feel happy. I feel fine. I feel loved.

Feel, feel, feel. We all feel something. In fact, we probably feel multiple things at the same time. And who among us hasn’t given into our feelings at times and allowed them to overtake every area of life?

If we are going to get anywhere with our feelings, we have to accept what feelings are: a gauge for where we are at with people or situations. Right or wrong. I am mad at my coworker, spouse, parent, friend. I am frustrated at myself for not following through on a commitment. I am happy that I finally completed a big project at work. Feelings reveal our emotional state in regards to life’s circumstances.

Accept that feelings are what they are…a little acknowledgement in this area can go a long way.

And remember that feelings can change in an instant. They are not reliable because life is constantly changing, and as it changes, our feelings about situations and circumstances will naturally change. Feelings are fickle.

But we have to examine our feelings and understand why we are feeling what we are feeling. We cannot move forward until we acknowledge where we are emotionally. We need to process it and accept that we are hurt, frustrated, angry, etc.

But then we have to realize that feelings are not a compass or a road map for life. They certainly let us know where we are, but they cannot guide us to where we want to be. What emotional messes we would be if we allowed feelings to dictate our choices in life.

Society will tell us the opposite. Every romantic movie and love song on the radio revolves around people listening to and following the impulse of their feelings, and of course, it always turns out perfectly. Our self-centered culture constantly screams at us: “Go with your gut!” or “Listen to your heart!” or “Let love be your guide!” Hmmm…what if my heart is in pain, and really wants to hurt someone who has inflicted deep emotional pain in my life? Should I listen to my heart then? And what if my gut tells me to take what is not mine because, in that moment, I really want it and need it and, after all, I deserve it? What if “love” tells me to compromise because after all “we are in love”?

Guts, hearts, and feelings – they are real, they are powerful, and they have an opinion. But they are not trustworthy.  

The reality is that every day we do things we don’t feel like doing. And this is a really good thing. Every morning I feel like staying in bed. But every morning I get up because I know that though I may feel like staying in bed, I have a job to do and people who are depending on me to follow through. So I ignore those feelings, and I get out of bed. I don’t “listen to my heart” or “go with my gut.”

This is certainly one of those “easier-said-than-done” things. We are barraged with feelings all the time, and they can easily influence our thoughts and our choices. The point is not to will away our feelings-we will never succeed at that. Feelings are unpredictable. But their effect on us doesn’t have to be unpredictable. Regardless of how we feel about something, we have the ability to do what’s right and counteract those feelings.

We have to accept that we feel what we feel. If we pretend like we don’t feel anything, that will only make us disillusioned and miserable people. Instead we can take the high road, acknowledge what we feel and why, and then press on to do what we know is right, even if we don’t feel like it. Feelings will fail us every time we depend on them to provide guidance they cannot give.

For more about how to address and change how we feel, read these two posts:
“The War Within” and “Shepherding Women in Crisis (Part 2)”

The Story of a WRAPed Foster Mom

Today’s post was written by Brook Hills member Jenny Clark. Jenny is mom to Aidan (10), Ella Mae (7), and Jojo (15 months), as well as a foster mom. She leads a single moms small group here at Brook Hills. You can learn more about Jenny on one of her blogs: momsyndrome.com and jennymo.com.

The journey that led me to adopt my son, Jojo, in June of 2013 actually began with foster care. Not long after I brought Jojo home from Texas, I felt the Lord nudging me to finish my foster care licensing….just in case.

Almost exactly a year after Jojo was born, I felt like the time was right to get my license and be ready just in case a baby like Jojo ever needed a family. Jojo has Down syndrome, and babies with special needs are often abandoned at the hospital, and it is hard to find foster families who are able take them. I wanted to be available to take the hard-to-place kids with special needs…..but not to be a “normal foster parent” and take in “typical kids.”

I turned in the final piece of paperwork on a Friday in July, assuming that I would sit back and wait until I was needed. I sat back and waited …..until Monday when I got the call for Baby Zee!

A statewide email had gone out (meaning the county the baby came from could find no one to take him) about a six month old baby who was born with Down syndrome but who also had a “whole host of other medical issues.” My social worker immediately thought of me. The list of his needs was overwhelming as I talked to her on the phone and tried to scribble down as many of his diagnosis as I could (on a trach, floppy airway, hearing issues, problem with his spleen, complicated heart defect, terrible diaper rash – those are the ones I can pronounce), so I could figure out what they actually meant later. But I knew then that the sick child she was describing over the phone was very different from the real child in real life. I said I needed to meet him.

As I held him for the first time, he was no longer a list of medical conditions. He was no longer a diagnosis. He was a beautiful child of God in need of someone who could care for him when his family could not. I told the room full of social workers, doctors, and nurses that I was in. I was on board to do whatever necessary to bond with this sweet boy and do the training required to bring him home.

In the meantime, I got a call from DHR about two other kids, ages 5 and 9 who needed a safe place to stay just for a week. Knowing that Baby Zee wouldn’t be able to come home that soon, I said yes. Of course. I can do anything for a week! That was over two months ago, and they are still with us!

About a month after meeting “Baby Zee,” I got a phone call that he wasn’t doing well and had actually coded. I rushed to the hospital to find out that he would need heart surgery within the next couple of weeks in order to survive.

In order for me to be able to be at the hospital with Baby Zee for a couple of days, I had to have a whole army of people to step in and take care of my 3 kids plus our 2 foster friends. This was no small task. That is where I was introduced to the Brook Hill’s WRAP ministry! Hallelujah!

WRAP 2Multiple people called and prayed with me. I received encouragement from people I had never met. Not to mention….FOOD! A sweet lady came to my house with 5 freezer meals, 1 ready to eat meal, cupcakes, AND breakfast stuff! You just can’t even fathom how much pressure that took off of me to be able to focus on the baby and his surgery without having to be home at a certain time to make sure dinner was ready.

God doesn’t call us all to adopt or foster, but He does command us all to care for the orphan. This is a wonderful ministry and an amazing way to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who so desperately need your support!

Our first Substitute Caregiver Training will be Saturday, October 25, from 8:30am-noon at the Brook Hills in Modulars 1, 14, 15, 16, & 17. Click here for more information and to register.

If you would like to find out more about WRAP please contact one of the following WRAP Team members:
Team Leader – Jeannette Thompson thompsonlaw08@yahoo.com
W and P Coordinator – Kathy Bley
kabley7@gmail.com
R Coordinator – Susan Nolin susangnolin@gmail.com
A Coordinator – Caroline Campbell ccampbellau@gmail.com

The Story of a WRAPer

Today’s post was written by Brook Hills member Susan Nolin. Susan is wife to Denver and mom to Kathleen, Sara, and Heather. She and Denver have fostered, adopted, and serve on the WRAP ministry leadership team as Relief Coordinators.

I am a WRAPer! Do I recite poetry to a beat and call it singing a song? Heavens no, my kids would faint if I did that … in public. WRAP is a foster care support ministry at Brook Hills. It originated in concept about 5 years ago as a way to answer the call to care for those caring for the fatherless. This ministry started with a small group of us brainstorming ways we could help foster families. Over the years, we have come to realize that our original process had become more reactive instead of proactive. We depended on foster families asking for help. If you know any of our church’s foster families, you will know that asking for help is not in their DNA. So we needed to organize, prepare, and have a support system in place that covered their needs before they asked. This is why WRAP was implemented. WRAP provides the much needed intentional support to our families who are fostering kids.

WRAP

WRAP is an acronym for:

W – Wrestle in Prayer. WRAPers are prayer warriors who have a heart for the hurting and who know who can help with that hurt. I mean they have a red phone hot line that rings directly to Heaven! They take the needs of these families and intentionally intercede on their behalf. They respect the stories of the families and foster kids and are able to talk to the Lord about those needs, but not their neighbors and friends.

Supplies needed to serve as a “W”: Bible, knee pads, and a “confidential stamp” on their lips.

R – Relief Care. WRAPers are babysitters on steroids. These men and women love love love kids. They play ball, throw a Frisbee, burp and rock babies, teach teens to cook brownies, kiss boo boos, car pool…. they give TIME. In doing this, they give a much needed break to the foster families. It can give foster parents alone time for a date night or alone time with their biological kids to remind these kiddos how fantastic they are, or alone time with just the foster kids to show them some unconditional love, or just alone time to stare out the window in a quite house for an hour.

Supplies needed to serve as an “R”: Bible, a smile, 1 day of required training to know how to deal with the hurting child and meet state requirements, and about an hour or two every once in a while to play with kids.

A – Acts of Service. WRAPers are the hands and feet of Jesus. Have you ever cooked a meal for a neighbor, helped a kid with homework, carpooled some kids to baseball practice, or picked up a gallon of milk or dry cleaning for a friend? If so, you are very qualified to be an “A.” You know how to serve. These “A” folks can rally up volunteers and have lasagna, bread, salad, and a pecan pie on someone’s door step in a blink of an eye.

Supplies needed to serve as an “A”: Bible, hospitality, flash cards with the multiplication tables, and a supply of disposable dishes. Optional: 1 day of required training as listed above – if you want to transport kids to appointments or practice.

P – Promises of God. Hallelujah! Did you read that? “PROMISES OF GOD!”  He has commanded us to care for the fatherless; therefore, He has this thing rigged – right?!? BUT, when foster families are on the battlefield 24/7 fighting for these kids daily in their own house, it can be overwhelming. When loving little people who don’t necessarily know how to love them back, foster families can sink into a low place. Trusting that God is in control when they return a child (who has been in their home a day, a month, or years) back to their birth family – they might rejoice that the birth family has met their goals and grieve the loss of the child they have cared for, both at the same time. We as a church family are here to remind those foster families that what they are doing is so worth it! They need to hear from us, to be encouraged by us, to be reminded what our heavenly Father has to say. A WRAPer can send a card, make a phone call, or send an email – just to remind these families that they are not forgotten and are loved by us and by their Heavenly Father.

Supplies needed to serve as a “P” – Bible, a stash of stationary, unlimited minutes, and a rewards card at Hallmark.

I am a WRAPer – and you can be one too!

Our first Substitute Caregiver Training that is mentioned above will be Saturday, October 25, 8:30am-noon in Modulars 1, 14, 15, 16, & 17 at Brook Hills.
Click here for more information and to register.

If you would like to find out more about WRAP, please contact one of the following WRAP Team members:
Team Leader – Jeannette Thompson thompsonlaw08@yahoo.com
W & P Coordinator – Kathy Bley
kabley7@gmail.com
R Coordinator – Susan Nolin susangnolin@gmail.com
A Coordinator – Caroline Campbell
ccampbellau@gmail.com

Bringing the Gospel Home this Fall

Today’s post is taken from Sunday’s Worship Guide story and is written by John Tice, the Children’s Minister at Brook Hills.

RTB_Fall_620x233

No other season of the year provides such unusual opportunities as Halloween. Our neighbors will be outside roaming the streets in packs and walking right up to our homes! If that’s not unusual enough, they’ll be coming, bags opened, expecting tasty treats. What do we do with that? Do we disappoint? Turn the lights off and go to bed? Hide in the basement? Or, do we turn the lights on and seize the opportunity? The latter seems best to me, and it’s consistent with what Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

The Holy Spirit wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good” (Rom. 12:21) and “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). The traditional themes and activities of Halloween provide unusual opportunities to “make the best use of the time” and to “overcome evil with good.”

This year, when your neighbors show up for tasty treats, let’s not disappoint. Instead, let’s be exceptional. Rock the Block Fall is a fun, low-prep effort for Brook Hills’ families and small groups to seize the opportunity and to be exceptional right where we live, in our own neighborhoods.

A Rock the Block Fall kiosk is set up in the lobby just outside the main worship room at the church. Stop by to pick up a booklet complete with simple ideas for you, your family, or your small group to consider, download the booklet by clicking here, or visit this site for more information.

May God be pleased to bless and may He be glorified in our efforts this October.

Make Disciples Wherever You Go – 2015 Trips

Yesterday, our Global Disciple-Making Team at Brook Hills released the list of 2015 short-term opportunities. Our church’s Vision, Mission, and Goal states that “we glorify God by making disciples of all nations,” and we encourage our members to set aside 2% of their time each year (about 1 week) to go on a short-term mission trip in order to share the gospel, to invest in national disciple-makers and churches in other contexts, and to transform how we spend the remaining 98% of our time here. We do this because we desire to multiply the gospel and bring greater praise and glory to God.

For a list of 2015 short-term trip opportunities, visit this site.

If your small group desires to go together on a trip, our Global Team will work with you to strategically customize a trip, and more about this can be found on the Short-Term website.

Mandi Mapes’ New EP

Mandi Mapes

Those of you familiar with Brook Hills Music will know Mandi Mapes, who used to be on our worship team and whose music has played in movies such as October Baby, Mom’s Night Out, and Coffee Shop.

Mandi released her new EP He and She yesterday on iTunes, and this record features fun tracks about Mandi’s hometown of New Orleans, Birmingham, and her husband Bill.

Community in the Midst of Crisis

Today’s post was written by Linda Hall who works as our Young Single Girls Coordinator at Brook Hills.

Community – what is that exactly some may ask? Webster and others define it as common interests, linked, social action, and interaction. When we think of biblical community, phrases like same Lord, loving each other, family, serving one another, praying together, and sharpening one another come to mind. Through the life and death of one of our young adult faith family members, I have witnessed first hand true biblical community.

Derick Arbaugh

Derick Arbaugh (April 21, 1988-July 21, 2014)

Derick Arbaugh was tragically killed in a car accident back in July, and his Brook Hills “community” has served in ways that have been remarkable and humbling to see. As his out-of-state family came to Birmingham, many of our young single adults gathered around them, some of whom did not even know Derick’s family, and ministered to them in countless ways – sitting with them for hours on end at the hospital, crying with them, traveling to Virginia to attend the funeral, planning and hosting a Birmingham memorial service for family and friends, loving on and meeting the needs of Derick’s new wife of a few short weeks (they had gotten married in May), and numerous other ways – too many to list. Not only has it been an incredible blessing to watch, but it has also been a personal challenge to me to be more like them – part of a community that has exhibited Christ’s love and literally been His hands and feet to a hurting family.

472197_10151408443652868_1524675632_oI’m not sure if you’ve looked around lately, but we are a church that is blessed to have hundreds of young single adults. And I must say that they are quite an extensive group of believers who truly live out biblical community. They are young men and women who desire to learn from and live out their faith with each other as well as with others outside of their stage of life. As I have had the privilege to serve this demographic at Brook Hills, these young adults have had a huge impact on my life as I’ve watched them grow in Christ, commit to missions, lead others in our faith family, minister to the hurting, and on and on. Acts 2:43-47 has been carried out before me as I’ve witnessed up close and personal the lives of many of our young single adults. And two challenges come to mind because of my experience with them.

  • If you are not in some way already connected to our young single adult ministry, may I challenge you to go out of your way to get to know and get involved with these awesome people? You will be blessed by having done so.
  • Are YOU experiencing this kind of community personally? If not, take the necessary steps to get plugged into biblical community – join a small group, serve within our faith family, and serve locally and globally with fellow Brook Hills members. The opportunities are there; we just have to step up to the challenge to become involved in other people’s lives and to just maybe… get out of our comfort zone.

Derick’s life continues to touch people in our own faith family as well as many others. He was an organ donor, desiring that his organs be used to literally save the lives of those waiting for transplants. And people have come to faith in Christ and have re-committed their lives to His Lordship through this tragedy. I’m sure there are numerous other untold ways God has used this young man’s life and death and will continue to do so. But much of it started as Derick got involved in biblical community right here at Brook Hills.

So what about you? Will you step up to these challenges? I pray you will – and I’m confident that you’ll be thankful you did.

DP-Day Plus One

Yesterday, David Platt preached his last sermon as the Senior Pastor at The Church at Brook Hills. We commissioned him and his family to serve with the International Mission Board, and now, it’s the morning after. It’s “DP-Day Plus One.”

As news of Pastor David’s transition has spread, folks within and outside of Brook Hills photo-2have asked a plethora of questions: Who will be the next senior pastor? What will happen to the church? Do you think people will stop coming? Who will be preaching on Sundays at the church? Will David continue to do Secret Church, preach sermons, and write books? Who are we and what are we as Brook Hills about on the morning (and the days to come) after David Platt is no longer out pastor?

In the midst of all of this, our staff had its annual staff retreat last week, and as you can imagine, the theme was “Navigating a Season of Change.” And on this morning after, there are a few highlights and truths that I want to relay to our faith family.

  • God is sovereign and good. He is in charge of this transition. He knows what is best for the IMB, for the Platt family, for The Church at Brook Hills, and for His glory, and He has the power to accomplish His plan. When Pastor David relayed the news of his possible transition to our Elders, one of them expressed to him that “You’ve been best for Brook Hills these past eight years, but if He’s leading you away, then clearly it’s because you’re not best for Brook Hills in the years to come.” God has led us all – the Platts, the IMB, Brook Hills – to this point, and He will continue to lead us. He has been faithful to us all in the past, and He will continue to be faithful in the future. This is God’s church, and He will accomplish His purpose in and through it.
  • Transitions have their challenges, but they provide an opportunity for greater growth. At staff retreat, we looked at Moses passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1 and at Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure in John 14-16 and Acts 1. What happened after these leadership transitions in Scripture? Promises were fulfilled. Blessings were realized. People were pointed to God. And in the New Testament, a countless number of people trusted in Christ for salvation. Most of us may not enjoy change because of the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with it, but it opens up an opportunity to change and grow in ways that we would not have sought or imagined otherwise. One of our pastors pointed out that when the Israelites were led by Joshua in crossing the Jordan River (Josh. 4), they had no idea what God was working in the hearts of the Canaanites (see Josh. 5:1). God was already at work in ways that they weren’t even aware of, and He’s already at work in the IMB and at Brook Hills in ways that we cannot see or imagine. We are anticipating God to work, and we urge our faith family to continue walking forward in faith and obedience.
  • We remain committed to spreading the gospel and making disciples. The Great Commission hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t change during times of transition. People throughout the world remain unreached and are still being born, living, and dying without ever hearing of Christ and the good news of salvation. Not only do we as Christ-followers need to go to the nations, the nations have come to us. 40,000 internationals live in the Birmingham area alone demonstrating that we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach unreached peoples in our own communities. Making disciples is not optional for the Christ-follower, and while we are not a perfect church, we strive to love, serve, and come alongside each other as we join God in His work. Our obedience to God’s commands were never based on the preaching of one man. While God has used Pastor David tremendously to challenge and encourage us as a church, David proclaimed God’s Word to us. It is God’s Spirit and God’s Word that stirred us as a church to “glorify God by making disciples among all nations,” and it is God’s Spirit and God’s Word that will continue to anchor and guide us in holding fast to the gospel with radical faith.
  • The church consists of “ordinary people with extraordinary power preaching, praying, giving, and suffering for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.” As Pastor David led us in staff worship at our retreat, this served as his thesis as we looked at the book of Acts. Yes, God has gifted Pastor David for service, but the Holy Spirit gives gifts to all of God’s people, gifts that we should all cultivate and use. In John 14:12, Jesus informed His followers that, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” These “greater works” occur because of the Holy Spirit indwelling in all of God’s children. If you are a Christ-follower, He who spoke the universe into being, who raised people from the dead, and who has power over all things resides in you, and He empowers you to do all that He has called you to do. What would happen if everyone at The Church at Brook Hills realized the power that was in them? How are you using your God-given gifts for His service and for the spread of His name? Are you proclaiming the gospel to the lost? Is prayer supplemental or fundamental in your life? Do you regularly inquire of the Lord, or do you rely on your own wisdom? Acts repeatedly depicts great acts of power and people’s conversions occurring after God’s people devoted themselves to prayer. May we as a church proclaim, pray, give, and suffer well for God’s renown.

We thank God for the leadership of David these past eight years and for how He has used him in indescribable ways to faithfully challenge, grow, and care for The Church at Brook Hills. And we enthusiastically support Pastor David in his new role and are excited about how God will use him to mobilize the 44,000+ Southern Baptist churches to reach the nations and to shepherd the 5,000+ missionaries who are on the field. But on “DP Day Plus One,” we look forward abiding and resting in Christ, blank checks on the table. We look forward in faith to how God will accomplish His purpose in and through The Church at Brook Hills. And, Church, we ultimately look forward to the day when the enemies of God will finally be defeated and the glory of God will forever be exalted.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” -1 Corinthians 15:58

Women Should Be Silent? Is that Really What Paul is Saying?

Yesterday in our Bible Reading Plan, we came to 1 Corinthians 14 in which Paul states that “women should be kept silent in the churches” (v. 34). What are we to do with this? 1 Cor. 14Are we really not allowed to speak in congregational settings? Must we really stay mute and hold our questions until we get home and can ask our husband or father?

To answer these questions, we must first analyze the text itself, and to do this, we must discern the context. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul addresses the misuse of tongues and prophecy in the Corinthian church and emphasizes that they are meant to build up the church. Essentially, they are beneficial gifts when used as intended by God, and they are even to be desired (see 1 Cor. 14:1). For corporate worship, Paul advocates that interpretation be given if someone speaks in tongues, and more than anything, he urges the believers to “strive to excel in building up the church” (v. 12). With regard to prophesy, Paul instructs the Corinthians to have others in the body weigh what is said by the prophet, which creates accountability by measuring the prophet’s words against Scripture.

The phrase in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that states “the women should keep silent in the churches” creates confusion and controversy among modern readers. When approaching difficult portions of Scripture, a good rule of thumb is to learn about the original audience, to learn about the situation being addressed in the passage and surrounding context, and to question how this passage fits with the rest of Scripture. Reading this statement in the context of 1 Corinthians 14 and the discussion of tongues and prophecy, it is unlikely that the statement means that women can never speak in church, especially since there are other passages in Scripture that mention female prophets as well as women praying in church (Acts 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5). 1 Corinthians 14:34 most likely is instructing the women not to question, correct, or challenge a prophecy in the church assembly, especially since the preceding context has to do with the evaluation of prophecy in corporate worship.

The chaos of people speaking over one another (vv. 30-33) also provides insight into Paul’s statement. Much as a classroom teacher will tell students not to waste the time of the entire class by asking a question that is better suited in a one-on-one conversation with the teacher, Paul instructs the women not to speak or ask questions in front of the entire congregation but to discuss these with their male family members at home. This gives the impression that women had begun asking questions or challenging what had been said in a prophecy during corporate worship gatherings. David Garland explains the situation by stating, “The key phrase is ‘if they want to learn…something,’ which implies a situation in which they are reacting to prophesy…It also implies that they do not understand and have no positive contributions to make on the topic at hand” (1 Corinthians). Throughout his letters, Paul supports the learning and growth of all believers – men and women, so we should not take Paul’s words to either belittle women or to discourage them from asking questions about the faith. The overarching concern in 1 Corinthians 14 has to do with order in the church and everyone acting in a manner that promotes unity and edification among the body; therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 should be read with this understanding.

Self or Surrender?

Today’s post was written by Brook Hills member, April Allen.

The story of Abraham and Isaac has always intrigued me. Or maybe “bewildered” is a better way to put it. How in the world could God ask a man to sacrifice his only son, the promised one he’d waited decades for? A beloved, innocent child! How gruesome. How cruel. How unjust. I can’t imagine Abraham’s agony. How did he find the strength to obey? Would I have been able to obey?

Through years of reflecting on such questions ( and I still don’t claim a complete understanding of all God was doing), He has revealed powerful truths and uncovered hidden sins in my life. Image, appearance, reputation – these were the primary objects of my affection growing up, my idols. Things I could control. Good grades, achievements – my eyes were fixed on self and others’ perception of me and not on God and how He sees me.

April Allen 1

This statue represents Jesus with a mother and her aborted child and is in the Patterson Grove Cemetery in Pleasant Grove.

I did grow up in church. I memorized Scripture weekly in my private school Bible class. But I had not allowed the Word to penetrate my heart and change my beliefs, my thoughts, or my actions. After college, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant but not married. Panic and fear were like a vice grip. My family would be horrified. This was a major problem that I had to fix immediately. I was a good, smart girl. I knew better. Reputation must be preserved. Self first, self second, and God…being stiff-armed at this point. I knew what He thought about abortion, and I hardened my heart. I bought the lie that the shame of having a child out of wedlock would become my hell on earth, and that was unthinkable. So, as usual, I took control. I secretly had an abortion. I told only a couple of friends. I buried the secret and kept it hidden for 15 years.

Looking back, God was there with me (as He is always). He allowed the consequences of my sin to put me to another test. A test to trust Him. Do I obey…do I put “self” (my reputation) on the altar and trust in His faithfulness to work all things together for good? Or do I take control and sacrifice my unborn child to spare self? I deeply regret failing that test. I sometimes wonder what my child would have been like. What did God have in mind for him? How many other lives could he have impacted? Sadly, there are millions of other women wondering the exact same thing.

But God! Don’t you love that phrase? (Thank you, David Platt.) But God is faithful. He was, is, and always will be with me. Even after blowing it in such a gigantic way! He IS using my unborn child’s existence for my good and His glory. Several years ago, He initiated my healing journey through a post-abortion Bible study called Surrendering the Secret. Through that small group study, God took my hidden, ugly sin of abortion (ashes) and exchanged it for beauty. Isaiah 61:1-4 poetically describes how God can transform what is broken and shameful into something whole and praiseworthy. He did it for me. He wants to do it for you. Maybe your secret sin is not abortion. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, He wants to heal and transform. And He will, if we lay down self and choose obedience. (Note: confidential Surrendering the Secret classes are offered through Brook Hills each semester. Fall classes begin soon. For more information, email sts@brookhills.org)

So Abraham passed his test with flying colors. Unshakable faith! I can’t wait to ask him about that one day. I’m fully convinced God’s Spirit empowered his obedience. But he still had to cooperate with the Spirit. And I stand amazed by that. But what I really stand amazed by is my Father God, who being in the shoes of Abraham, willingly sacrificed His own beloved Son so that even though I aborted mine, I could be washed of ALL my sin, one day see Him face to face, and hug my first child for the first time.

I’m looking forward to an opportunity to honor my son’s memory as well as the memory of over 50 million aborted American April Allen 2children on Saturday, September 13. On this day, the second annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children will be held nationwide. The local service will take place at Patterson Forest Grove Cemetery in Pleasant Grove at 1:00 pm. For details, see www.abortionmemorials.com. We will pray, sing, hear male and female testimonies, and honor the unborn. Raising awareness of the humanity of the unborn is one of my callings. Helping other post-abortive women seek forgiveness and healing is another.

Seeking to put self on the altar daily,

Your surrendered sister,

April