Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 8 - lover not a fighter...

A friend 'joined' me to one of those facebook groups.  Y'know the ones where you automatically get email updates from the group... This one was for buying, selling and promoting *whatever* in South Calgary.  i checked out the rules and it said simply, "there are no rules!" so - thinking that it might be a nice opportunity to share our 40 Days for life facebook page, i wrote: "Just promoting the facebook page for 40 Days for Life - peaceful prayer vigil for an end to abortion :) "
Within minutes, i was kicked out of the group - with 2 responses saying that my post was both inappropriate and hateful. 
i was kind of surprised.  Really, i was.  i thought that both pro-lifers and pro-choicers could agree that an end to abortion would be a good thing... i thought that both camps agreed that abortion is a pretty horrible thing (isn't their big slogan, 'safe, legal and rare'?)... but that one group thinks that it should be 'unthinkable' and the other thinks it should be 'available on demand'...
i thought they were 'pro-choice' - not necessarily 'pro-abortion'... Is it really hateful to want to see an end to abortion? Couldn't we agree that praying for a divine end to abortion could be a good thing for our country? 
Can i be honest? 
i'm not really a fighter.  i hate being the one making a disturbance.  i don't like drawing attention to myself (especially drawing criticisms like 'inappropriate' and 'hateful'...) - i feel a little bit like i might cry :)  i'm tender like that. 
But if it comes right down to it, i'm willing to engage my culture on this issue.  i might cry & my voice might shake... ( & yes... just from getting kicked out of a group i would have gotten out of a couple of weeks ago if i knew what buttons i needed to press - like i said... i'm not very brave)... but i'm going to continue to gently, relentlessly, with whatever amount of grace & opportunity God gives me... offer truth. 
And i'll continue to (lovingly) pray for an end to abortion - whether the current cultural trend deems it appropriate or not.
Hey... ladies in South Calgary... you are loved. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

day 7 - on the road to jericho

It was freezing cold. i pulled my hat further down on my forehead and felt my eyelashes freeze when my eyes watered. 
i watched their car pull into that parking lot - a man and a woman... they gazed purposefully at my sign that read, "Each fragile life, a gift" before opening the door to the clinic.  But as the door swung open, my attention suddenly shifted to the woman being escorted out.  They walked her out the door, and then the door shut behind the couple that had just gone in, and she was left in the parking lot alone. 
Slowly, achingly, she made her way across the parking lot.  i watched her - praying for her - wondering if they could really have let her go in that condition all by herself.  i have seen women go to the bus stop near by before, but she continued in her slow agony past it - and finally crossed the street at the lights. 
"Do they really just let them go like that?  With nobody to help them?"  The voice came from behind me and startled me mid-thought.  Another vigiller voiced my concern and i shook my head - uncertain... Surely she had someone picking her up.  Surely they could see that she wasn't alright - even to cross the street alone. 
My mind flew back in time.  Has it really been 14 years since i lost my little baby boy 16 weeks into my pregnancy?  i remember that a couple of days after he was delivered, we went out for breakfast with my mom... she was leaving us to mourn our dead alone, after having come to help us in the first shock of grief.  i felt kind of awful still and i went to the restaurant bathroom where i promptly passed out.  i came to a while later, when my husband found me and scooped me up in his arms to take me to the hospital.  i was so weak...
And this clinic that intentionally brings death... they just took her baby - leaving her weak and her womb void.  They stripped her of her child, her dignity, her health - and she left in the cold alone. 
i bit my lip. 
i know i'm not supposed to go beyond this bubble zone, but i can't help but wonder if she's alright.  Surely this is a human issue - not a protester versus an abortion clinic issue.  Surely a fellow human being couldn't just let her hobble away - who knows how far.  i had a van, i could give her a ride, i could help her if she'd let me...
Decided, i folded my sign under my arm, and jogged up the sidewalk.  i glanced up the street, and it was empty.  i walked across the gas station parking lot - looking for her slow stride where her pants hastily tucked - flapped out of the tops of her winter boots... but she was nowhere to be seen. 
i walked slowly back to my position on the sidewalk - dissatisfied.  i wondered who would find her if she passed out - i remembered my husband's tender arms... and i prayed for my Father's gentle comfort and redemption for her...
Oh, God - i wish i would have acted sooner... i wish i could have reached her - spoken to her - comforted her... i wish that she never would have believed the lies that have saturated our culture that offer death as a solution to life - that offer emptiness as a solution to crisis. 
So - i missed her on that road to Jericho. 
i prayed - and yet was denied the opportunity to offer physical comfort... Oh Father, keep me willing... hone my instincts, let me act in accordance to Your will - in a way that will bring light and truth to a hurting world.

Monday, February 27, 2012

summer visit - day 6

Below is a memory from a "visit between vigils" - it's hard to fathom as we vigil at the abortion clinic that it was open before these 40 days began.  It has been open for far too long.
i heard a pastor ask a woman this past Sunday how he could pray for her.  She responded without hesitation, "You could pray Colossians 1:9 for me."
& although this passage was written about a group of believers, if you are lacking the words to pray, i invite you to pray Colossians 1:9 - for all those requiring rescuing from the horrendous hurt and death that abortion brings, and please pray too, for those Christ followers who can't be silent and so continue to vigil and pray at the abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.  We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance of patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has (*he CAN) rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  - Colossians 1:9-14

picnic in the park

My friend was already at the park when we pulled up. 
She was pushing her giggling son on the swing set in the green grassy playground across the street from the abortion clinic.   The big shady trees provided reprieve from the blazing sun.  Such a different scene from my first visit all those months ago when the icy cold still held the world in it's steel grip and the sidewalks were treacherous skating rinks. 
i can't drive down Crowchild now without my heart being pulled to that building.
We leave our children running and playing - pink cheeked and laughing at the park...
And each carrying our youngest, we walk to the corner to pray. 
Oh God - give me ears to hear Your Voice...
"Just stand there... and pray... and hurt... and weep...."  He seems to say. 
so i do. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 5 - despite the circumstances

by denise

I was 42 years old when I discovered that I was pregnant with my second child. My only son would be turning 6 soon and my husband had been recently diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder. I was hardly coping, as it was, and I wondered how on earth I would manage to juggle all the pieces of my life to make this work.

When I went to my doctor, his reaction didn't help matters. Originally from overseas, when he saw the positive pregnancy test results he blurted, "Oh, bloody Hell!" So much for congratulations! Then he asked me what I intended to do about it and added, "Do you want to terminate?"

Since I had always intended to have the baby, I left the office in a daze, wondering if I should be seeking another doctor to monitor my pregnancy. But since this was the same office where I'd received assistance when my son was born, I decided to continue with the practice.

A few weeks later I was sent for a routine blood screening. At the time I was unaware that the test was to determine if there were any abnormalities with my child. The test results soon came back. Low risk of Trisomy 18 and spina bifida, but Downs Syndrome was a distinct possibility as my personal number was 1 in 81. The doctor called me and told me I needed to come to his office, an hour away. He broke the news that my baby might have Downs Syndrome. He told me the numbers.

But what he didn't tell me was that the figures meant that if there were 81 pregnant women, in a room, when they all gave birth, statistically 80 of them would have perfectly normal infants while one would have a child with Downs Syndrome. The doctor called a specialist in the city (three hours from my home) and made an appointment for me to go there early the following week. I went home and spent the weekend in despair. Surely my baby was doomed.

My husband took the day off work so he could accompany me to the city. We left our son with his grandparents and went to see the specialist. She was encouraging and told me that she had several other women in her office that day that were also scared, based simply on the results of the routine blood screening. She stated that once there had been a women, she had as a patient, that had been given the ratio "1 in 4" chance of Downs. Yet, when that little one had been born, it was fine. I was sent home and told not to worry so much.

However, a few weeks later, I found myself back in the city for an ultrasound as my doctor was still not satisfied that everything was all right. After the specialist performed the ultrasound, she told us we were having a girl and that there was nothing to worry about.

Finally, for the last couple of months, until my due date, I could relax a little. Since I had gestational diabetes, I had to take insulin shots every time I ate. Then I developed high blood pressure and had to be hospitalized over the weekend. Eventually I was released with pills to control my blood pressure and told that a C-section would be planned in about ten more days. At the time of the birth, I was 43.

When our daughter, who is now 6 years old and in Grade 1, was born, she was perfect in every way. But even if she had not been, would we have loved her any less? Even now, all these years later, some times I look at wee Isobel and wonder what if I had decided that I was too old to have another child or that the risks to my own health (or her potential Downs syndrome) were too much to handle? What if I had decided to have an abortion? What fun I would have missed! I'm glad I wasn't pushed into making the wrong decision by the initial negativity of my doctor but I shudder to think that other children have been aborted in similar circumstances.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 4 - filling the days together

by gwen

Our parish kicked off Day 1 of the Spring 40DFL prayer campaign by covering the time slots from 9 am to 4 pm at the Kensington abortion clinic.  We were very happy when other people joined us and also came later so most of the day there was a visible witness for LIFE in front of the clinic.  There is an instant bond between pro-life people who meet by the clinic.  Some times there were more than four people with the overflow gladly moving into the designated area in the playground to pray, still keeping the clinic in view.  The best witness in defense of LIFE was a dad and a very pregnant mom who prayed while their little boys played in the playground with relatives.  It was the mom's due date.  We can only imagine how painful it was for them to witness mothers walking into the abortion clinic & choosing their babies due (death) date.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 3 - You are loved, Calgary

It's cloudy.  The cold keeps biting through my hoodie and i feel my hips shaking with both cold and discomfort. 
i'll never get used to praying outside our city's abortion clinic. 
i hold up my new sign.  My old one, bedraggled with wear has finally gone missing... and so my children helped me make a new one.  Carefully, i penned the message that remains on my heart as these months pass, and these vigils come and go... It's the message that Jesus brought when he came to tell a lost world that they could be found, the message is: "You are loved."
On the other side, in bold print, i offered the message that my mother in law sent me when i miscarried our son 16 weeks into my pregnancy... it ministered to my broken heart then, and i pray that it's truth will penetrate the hearts of those bent on death, "Each fragile life is a gift". 
My nine year old son and my seven year old daughter stand with me.  Nervously, they ask what we should pray - and my son asks if it would be alright to pray Our Father. 
So we do. 
Soon, their little limbs fidget and they're ready to run to the playground and i smile as they go - and continue to pray and hold the message of love to the city of Calgary.

You are loved... Yes you, little bald man who slows to a near stop, eyes squinted, mouth agape to see the colourful words on my sign.   And you, you are loved, angry woman shaking your head "no" as you drive disgustedly away, slamming your hand in frustration on your steering wheel, and you - poor father... i see you slumped over your steering wheel as you wait parked on the side of the road after she walked in those doors, do you know that you too, are loved?
You are loved, little family in the red van - who wonder why a stranger holds up a sign about love on a seemingly  random sidewalk; oblivious to my calling, and what you are driving past... and you, gramma with the pixie cut who stares straight ahead with rigid jaw, pretending i don't exist... and neither does that grey building on the other side of the road that boasts, "accredited surgical facility..."
Tiny babies that are hidden beneath clothes, beneath skin and bone - tucked in the secret place - growing and unaware of the possibility of outside interference.  You are loved, passenger who cranes your neck to read my message and then rolls down the window to wave it's receipt.  You are loved, bus driver - who shocks me by pulling over and thanking me for my prayerful presence.  She calls it, "Good Work..." this praying... & work it is... & i know in my heart that she's right. 
You are loved, unwanted person, unhealthy person, old person and young.  You are loved beautiful person, mocking person, scornful person, confused person, seemingly unlovable person... each one... loved. 
Each one of us here, now... has been given this one life by the Creator of the Universe.  Each unique life is precious in it's undeniable vulnerability and temporary nature. 
i believe that a culture that truly knew God's love... that truly understood that they were loved... that grasped the very core of the reason *all* human life has value - (for God so loved the world...) would be unable to so casually take it away.
You are loved, Calgary. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 2 - if you don't like abortion...

i couldn't tell you how many times i have read that phrase from those who advocate unlimited access to abortions, "If you don't like abortion, don't have one..."
& i get what they're trying to say. 
i totally understand that an unplanned pregnancy can be a tender thing - full of shame and uncertainty.  Watching women going in & out of that abortion clinic has solidified this view for me.  These aren't liberated, confident women... these are fear-filled women; many of them are coerced - and i'm willing to bet that none of them feel like they have any "choice" in the matter. 
The reason i feel like i can't be silent about abortion isn't because i want a hand too, in manipulating these vulnerable women... it's because there is another life at stake.  There is a little one in danger of being torn from the safety of his mother's womb. 
A baby. 
To say that i should only consider my own children borne of my own body when i consider the world-wide epidemic of abortion, seems rather short sighted.  That's like saying that if i don't like child abuse, i shouldn't abuse my own children....
Should i not speak out on behalf of the little ones who are battered and wounded at the hands of their parents?  Or is it enough that i don't lay a hand on my own, since child abuse is such a personal matter, between a parent and child. 
Should we not seek to protect the vulnerable ones... both born, and unborn?  Whether they're ours, or not?
Standing at the abortion clinic and praying - is the most effective thing that we can do to change hearts and lives.  We often hold signs to remind those mama's of the tender life they carry - not in judgement - but in compassionate mercy. 
Hey, mama... you have other choices.  We love you - and are here because you and your little one are precious in His sight... i know it hurts to see us here.  i don't want to cause pain, but i do want to save you from the permanence of abortion... 

If you don't like abortion... join us & pray.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day one - spring 2012

We are one of 258 locations worldwide that have made the commitment to praying for the next 40 days for an end to abortion. 
The Kensington abortion clinic on 5th Ave is the place where we go... It's still cold in this Canadian prairie city at this time of year.  The weather is unpredictable - and yet... the call is so urgent.  This year in the southern part of Alberta, 5000 babies will lose their lives.  The vast majority of these killings will take place at the Kensington clinic.  Parents, thinking that they don't want to pay for a mistake they made for the rest of their lives - will take the life of their tiny one, not realizing that this too... will stay with them forever. 
This culture of death is the battle ground that our generation has found ourselves on.  The value of human life is measured by health, by "wantedness", by convenience... and the gift of life can be taken on a whim. 
We need to start caring.  Each and every believer needs to take this conversation to their friends and family.  We need to create opportunities for sharing truth.  We need to speak out, and gently, lovingly - reach a broken world to protect life. 
This 40 day vigil serves as an opportunity to soften hearts (our own and others) through prayer.  It allows us to plead with God for the hearts and minds of our nation to be changed, and it allows us to engage in this battle in the single most powerful way that we can. 
Let's pray. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

on having the baby

After i posted this on facebook this a couple of weeks ago:

Today is 'sanctity of life Sunday' - the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in the States... It's time for a new generation that knows better - to do better. (Anyone looked at 3D ultrasounds - or a furiously beating heart in a baby just weeks in the womb?) - All life is precious...

i noticed that some of my "pro-choice" friends had responded by posting harrowing articles about the rates of maternal deaths in the years before abortion was legalized in America.
Those articles didn't change my mind. 
& it's not because i closed my eyes and refused to read them, it's not 'cause the numbers have been found to be fudged on the other side of this debate, it's not even because the picture of a mother, lying dead in a pool of blood after an illegal abortion didn't break my heart, nor is it because i didn't feel for those girls who thought they had no other alternative than to visit a crack pot doctor for an illegal abortion when they had already been abused, sometimes raped - or found themselves in one of life's many 'corners'...
It's because in each and every case cited... there was another person involved.  That little person always lost it's life - in each and every story... the ones where the mother died, the babe died too - first torn limb from limb... the ones where there was a creepy doctor who performed what they paid him to do with horrible bedside manner - the babe died too.  The stories of young girls scraping together the money and convincing friends to help her out of her jam?  The baby was killed in those stories too...
i want to argue something in naivete, if you'll allow me today.  So often the things we want to say aren't culturally acceptable, are they?  You're not allowed to impose your beliefs on another.  If someone wants to dye their hair purple, they can, if someone wants to abort their child, who should tell them to carry it?  If someone wants to drive drunk... we should let them... right?  It's all about free choice, isn't it?  Um... maybe not... But today, i want to ignore that cultural acceptance & i want to naively offer up a suggestion that i think would make the world a better place. 
Pregnancy is 9 months... give or take.  Ladies, mamas, women... would it be so hard to give that?  Yes, there's nausea, exhaustion, hormones... there are vitamins to take, risks to be avoided and weight to be gained, but in all honesty, according to statistics, most women who have an abortion want to have a baby some day, so those things are obstacles they're willing to tackle at some date in the future... What if it was now?  Now i'll admit... i love being pregnant.  i love the feeling of life inside... i know my baby hears the sound of my voice, the beating of my heart... & responds.  i don't like being tired & homely & achey... but i sure do love the miracle unfolding on the inside...
Right now... those little ones growing inside... they have no human rights, they're unprotected, naked, vulnerable.  Those same creepy doctors who were performing illegal abortions before roe vs. wade, just continued doing them after... that horrible situation that you were in before your abortion?   You'll still be in it after, only you'll know... you'll know... that you didn't protect someone who was worthy of their mama's protection....
It's 9 months...
Give or take...
9 months till that little person can be independent, crying and naked and wet from the womb.... into the arms of someone who would weep with gratitude if you still thought you couldn't parent after all that... 9 months of growth, and development... 9 months till baby can live in this new environment... Only 9.
Sure, there would be childbirth, one of the most amazing things the human body can do... there would be the embarrassment of being pregnant when you didn't intend to be, there might be increased vulnerability because of your state...
But there's another life at stake...
You can be a hero... to that little person.  Give them a chance at a gasping breath & allow the life that has already begun - to continue...?


Our spring vigil begins in only a couple short weeks.  If you have any pieces to add for the blog, we'd love to hear what you've got to say!  Share the blog, the facebook page or the Calgary 40 Days for life website with your friends and family - use this opportunity to speak truth to a generation that needs desperately to hear it.