Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Police Story

Karen* came to Community Pregnancy Center to join me in a Bible study.   She suffered from PTSD – specifically: post abortion syndrome.  Karen was diagnosed as pregnant when she went for the police academy physical.  She had not even missed a period when the nurse came in an announced that she was pregnant.  Karen immediately went to an abortion facility where she was examined; they sent her home for 2 weeks because she was not pregnant enough for any abortion procedure. 

Karen returned after her 2-week waiting period, received her two doses of medication (administered in the RU486 medical abortion), was asked if she would like anything for the pain, ‘because some people find the cramps severe.’  She thought, “how bad can it be” and declined.
Karen returned home and took her first pill. 
24 hours later she took the second. 

The clinic had said, she would want to take the day off, rest, and allow the process to happen.  So, she did. 

Karen reported that when cramps started, she had never experienced pain at that level.  She began to wish that she had that Vicodin, and then the bleeding began.  She had never seen so much blood.  This was not a regular period, this seemed like a hemorrhage.  The clinic had said there would be a lot of blood.  They also said she might see the “product of conception” when it was expelled, and she should just flush it down the toilet.  No muss, no fuss, no worries. 

But Karen was worried. 
Her clothes were ruined. 
The comfy blanket she was curled up in was blood soaked. 

The bathroom was bloody, and as she recounted the incident to me, she compared the bathroom to a crime scene.  She did see the “product of conception” and continued to see it in her dreams.

She cleaned, and washed and cleaned some more, but still in her mind she saw blood.

She threw away the clothes and the sheets and the comfy blanket.  And still she saw blood.

She forfeited her deposit and moved to a new apartment in hopes, she would no longer, see the blood.

No one knew of Karen’s pain but me. Joining the police department was a life-long dream.  She chose to do whatever was necessary to make it through the PT part of training and the police academy.  She did not tell her mom – she suffered alone – because her mom would disapprove. She did not tell her sisters – she was embarrassed that she allowed this pregnancy to happen.  Keeping this pregnancy a secret was paramount.  So, when the pain was unbearable, and the blood was unbelievable, and she thought she might die right there in her apartment, she had no one to call because this secret was too big to share. 

I saw what happens when one mistake turns into several.

I saw a woman broken and battered. 
              Emotionally destroyed.
     Completely alone.
And then I saw God step in.

Finally, she came to the pregnancy center,
where we talked,
we cried,
we relived the nightmare
                                                    and cried more. 

Then we talked about a GOD who loved her. 
Jesus who died for her. 

The pain will never be gone – physically or mentally, but spiritually, we come to that place where we understand and believe we are so loved by our Savior and our Creator that His sacrifice does pay the price.  We can stop punishing ourselves, Jesus already took that punishment.  We are precious and loved.  We are sons and daughters of the KING, adopted into God’s family, holy, precious, and loved. 

“Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong. 
We are weak, but HE is strong!”

Don’t suffer in silence!  Call your church, your local pregnancy resource center, tell your mom – she will be sad, but she loves you, she will hold you and hug you, and cry with you.  Don’t let abortion end 2 lives – call today!  Ask for help!

*Name changed to protect confidentially

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

An Adoption Story

Tina arrived at the center alone.  At 15, she was scared.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, she was praying she was not pregnant.  She hoped a test would calm her worst fears.

When the test came back positive, abortion was pretty much out of the question.   Raised in a Christian home Tina knew that God had a plan for every life He created.   

Her parents were very clear that they would love her, and support the decision she made, but they would not be raising this baby or supporting her so that she could raise a baby.  Tina would have to find a way to complete high school, work so that she could provide for and raise both herself and a baby.

That is one of the reasons teenagers are abortion-vulnerable – fear of how will I care for this baby, where will I live, how can I go to school, work, and raise a child.  Abortion can easily become the “path of least resistance.”

But not for Tina, she set out to learn about adoption.

Tina wanted to be a parent that would raise her child, and not place him or her in the hands of daycare or babysitter.  She wanted nice things for her baby, she wanted her baby to have a daddy in the home, loving, caring and supporting the family.  She knew that at this time in her life, these were things that were out of reach for her and her baby.  After weighing the pros and cons, after learning as much as she could about adoption it seemed the best choice for her child, was to find a family that could love, cherish, and provide as she could not. 

2 days after the birth of her son, Tina handed the care and protection of her baby boy to the family that she had chosen.  It was hard, but she didn’t regret this decision.  She still would see her baby and receive cards and pictures from the adoptive family.   

That is unconditional love.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Hope Story

Ann is a client who attended our Points to Success classes.  Her baby is now about 3 months old, and he is such a blessing, so when her friend Carri came to her for a ride to planned parenthood, for a medical abortion,  Ann contacted the Community Pregnancy Center of Pasadena.  We were able to schedule an appointment for the following day.

When Carri arrived, with Ann and another friend.   She had already visited planned parenthood and gathered timing and information on the medical Ru_486 abortion procedure.  Even though she knew abortion was wrong,  her mind was made up, and the plan was in place.  
Ann convinced her to keep her appointment with the client advocate, and her story poured out:
·         She was 2-years short of completing her teaching degree. 
·         The father of this child did not want a child and had said that he would not participate in the raising of a child, or provide financial aid. 
·         There are family issues, and Cari is terrified of telling her mom she is pregnant.

Carri really believed that it was better to abort this child, rather than deal with the issues she was facing.  But Ann didn’t believe that.  Her friend didn’t believe and the CPC client advocates knew there were other options open to Carri.  They talked about :
·         school, grants, scholarships, and raising a baby at the same time one finishes school. 
·         child support and dead-beat dads
·         the love and support of family and friends

We offered Carri and ultrasound, but she emphatically stated: “No!, I do not want to see this baby”.  When the ultrasound technician went to give Carri other information, she offered an ultrasound to just confirm the age of the baby, so that when Carri arrived at planned parenthood she would know exactly how far along she was (which makes a difference in price and procedure).  The tech promised that the screen would be turned away, this was just for Carri’s information, no pressure to look or make a decision. 

At CPC Pasadena, we do not judge our clients.  We offer the truth and we offer hope.  The Holy Spirit is at work all the time. We encourage client advocates to pray often, and to never be afraid to take a break and enlist the aid of Heavenly Father through prayer.   Our client advocates made sure they prayed before inviting Carri into the counseling room.  Although Carri had no spiritual ties, she was moved by the faithfulness of these two followers of Jesus.  They heard the message that God spoke and responded. 

Carri didn’t know exactly what she felt that day, but the peace in the room gave her the courage to say, “Yes, let's make sure I have this all right before I get to planned parenthood.”   Once she had the courage to say yes, God, only had to make that baby’s heartbeat loud enough for the doppler to pick up the  “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” of a baby heartbeat; Carri’s head turned towards the ultrasound screen, the corners of her mouth turned up.    Her friends, who had joined her by now beamed at that little baby on the screen, while Ann’s baby cooed from his seat in the room.  It was the perfect alignment of circumstances.

Ann is still nervous, she has a long way to go, but now she can see there is hope where she could see none.  Now she knows that she must talk to her mom.  But she also knows that there are people who love her and care, who will stand with her through this pregnancy and as she raises a child. 
Community Pregnancy Center is a pro-abundant-life pregnancy resource center.  We care about more than that baby.  We care about the mom.  We care that she has peace, feels loved, and that she can provide for her baby, not just food and shelter, but life abundant.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The blog below was originally published by Care-Net and written by Ardee Coolidge.  I was so touched by the sentiment, in this blog, I wanted you to have the opportunity to consider – “how does the woman caught in adultery teach us anything about Maddie Runkles.  I hope you will read on, and consider how do we proceed in our daily lives?  How do we respond to sin?  and when that 17 year old girl, 6 months pregnant walks into your sanctuary on Sunday, what is your response?  At Community Pregnancy Center, each day we minister to "the woman caught in adultery"  We respond with prayer.  We respond with compassion, and hope.  Will you help CPC spread hope?   

What Christ’s Response to the Woman Caught in Adultery Teaches Us About the Maddi Runkles Case
Posted by Ardee Coolidge on Jun 29, 2017 8:00:00 AM

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article responding to the controversy surrounding Heritage Academy’s decision to prohibit Maddi Runkles from walking in her school’s graduation ceremony due to her violation of the student abstinence policy. Of all the articles I have written for Care Net, this one received the most comments.

Reading through the feedback, I found that many objections to my belief that Heritage Academy’s actions were not “how Christians should respond to unwed teen pregnancy” could be grouped under two primary concerns.

First: If the school followed the example of Christ’s response to Peter’s rebellion, they would condone fornication and cause other students to view fornication in a positive, or at least consequence-free, light. Such “mercy” would do little more than cause sin to abound.

Second: The church should love the rule breaker, but still punish the violation. When a student knowingly violates a signed agreement, like a student covenant or honor code, they should not be excused from consequences of that violation. These consequences are meant for their own good and to deter such behavior in others.

I would like to respond to these two central objections to my original piece and show why I believe that the life of Christ once again shows us the way forward in difficult situations like the one faced by Heritage Academy. I believe that Christians must do their best to think about these things before they are faced with such a scenario if they are to properly apply Scripture and not be swayed by emotion and stress, both of which will be heightened during controversies like the one that has embroiled Heritage. I also believe that, if correct, these objections must be laid at the feet of Jesus Christ as well.

In the New Testament, we read the well-known story of the Pharisees bringing a woman caught in the act of adultery to Christ. Before a large crowd, the Jewish religious authorities literally drop the fornicator at the feet of Jesus and demand Him to render judgement. They remind him that the Law of Moses clearly states that such a person should be stoned to death by the community so that the guilt of their sin can be purified from the people. After reminding Jesus of this key scriptural passage, they ask Him, “What do you say?”

Having grown up in the church, I heard this story so many times that I never really caught the significance of Christ’s actions until recently. Why did the Pharisees believe that this question would trap Jesus? To put it another way, what was it in the life of Christ that made them think that this scenario would cause Him to stumble?

The four gospels tell us that Christ spent the majority of His time, not with the religious elite, “righteous,” or well-respected, but with the tax-collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. As author Brennan Manning writes, “The sinners to whom Jesus directed His messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation.” The Pharisees hated Him for this. To make matters worse, Christ did not just spend time with them; he ate and drank with them.

Culturally speaking, sharing a meal with someone was one of the most intimate actions a first century Jew could undertake. Inviting someone to dinner was to identify with this person as a deep and trusted friend. It literally brought him or her into one’s sanctuary, their refuge. So great was this act that the host was expected to lay down his own life before allowing his guest to come to harm. In the book of Genesis, we see this play out in the story of Lot hosting two angelic visitors. When the wicked men of Sodom come to the door and demand Lot turn his guests over to them, he refuses and offers his own daughters in their place. As offensive as this is to our sensibilities, it reveals just how strong a statement of friendship sharing a meal was in the days of Christ.

Jesus was not just an ordinary man sharing dinner with questionable people. He claimed oneness with God the Father. He claimed holiness. He claimed the power to forgive sin, something only God can do. According to the Torah, God was holy and could not tolerate wickedness. How then could this “Holy Teacher” share sanctuary with prostitutes and sinners? According to the Law, many of these dinner guests were worthy of death.

For the Pharisees, there were only two possible reasons why Christ could befriend such people: either He did not believe their behavior was sinful, or He did not believe God’s Law was just.

For this reason, they believed they could trap Him by bringing Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. If He said that she deserved to die for her sin, they would demand to know why He spent His time with those guilty of the same. If He said she did not deserve death, they would expose Him to the world as one who did not believe fornication was sinful. It should have worked.

Instead, Jesus turned the trap into a powerful statement on the nature of sin and the importance of mercy and grace. Christ looked at the crowd holding stones, ready to make her pay, and made one simple statement.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

That’s it.

He did not preach a lengthy sermon or debate the finer points of Old Testament law. The Law was clear. Fornication meant death. She was caught literally in the act of fornication. Instead, he drew the bloodthirsty, self-righteous crowd’s attention to their own sin.
John tells us that one by one, the people left until no one remained but Jesus and the woman. You see, Jesus had no sin. He was the one who could cast the first stone. In fact, the law she broke was instituted by God, His Father. As God said to Israel, “Vengeance is Mine.”

The only one present who could have thrown the stone was Christ. Instead, He asked her, “Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” the woman responded.

“Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.”
This is what the Pharisees missed: Christ did not fellowship with sinners because He believed sin was not sinful. He fellowshipped with sinners because He was going to pay the price for their sin. As He said many times, “I have not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.”

The crowd came that day to see a woman pay for her sins. They left realizing that they deserved to pay for their own.

Of course, God’s law cannot be mocked. It cannot change. Fornication does require death. So, a short time later, Jesus would stand before another bloodthirsty, self-righteous crowd. This time it would be His life they would demand and His blood they would spill. We read that Christ bore all the sins that ever were or ever would be on His own body and paid their penalty with His own blood. As the crowd hooted and hollered while hearing Him gasp for breath, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
But He saved his most powerful words for last.

It. Is. Finished.

I can’t help but find in these stories strong similarities with what happened at Heritage Academy. A young woman signed a covenant committing herself to chastity before marriage. Unlike the Law of Moses, which clearly stated the punishment for such violations, this student covenant did not spell out what punishment would result from breaking it – only that there would be consequences. Maddi, like the Jewish woman, was brought out in public where she confessed her sin (Maddi had to stand in front of the entire school and say she had sinned by having sex before marriage). Like the crowd before Jesus, much of the media waited to hear what Heritage would say. “What should be done to her?” they demanded.
Of course, Christ showed us what should be done. Having fulfilled the penalty of Maddi’s sin as well as the sins of her administrators, classmates, teachers, and every reporter that wrote a byline about the story, Christ showed His people that any man-made consequences of sin should be grounded in mercy and grace, for the purpose of restoration.

Why did I specify “man-made?” Because there are natural consequences that we have no ability to remove. Consequences like having to raise a child as a single parent, having to struggle to make financial and career goals, having to walk around for nine months with an ever-expanding stomach that reveals to the entire Christian community that she failed to keep her promise. The same sort of natural consequences can be seen in the story of the woman caught in adultery. The effects of her decisions on her marriage, her family and herself remained, even after Christ removed the guilt of her sin and delivered her from the punishment of the law.
Refusing to allow Maddi the honor of walking in her graduation is not a natural consequence of her fornication nor can it be said to help restore her to the community of faith, as it removes her from fellowship.

Some will likely object here and say, “But Ardee, letting her walk would signal to all other students that breaking the honor code is okay. Fornication would spread.” My response would be to simply point out that if that were the case, then Jesus Christ committed the same mistake by pardoning an adulterous woman before a crowd of people and refusing to enforce the biblical requirement that the fornicator die.
It is also worth noting here that the Jewish woman knew that her fornication could result in death before sleeping with her lover and Jesus still did not enforce the clear command of the covenant she agreed to by punishing her.

Instead, he punished Himself.
My heart breaks when I read Maddi’s story and others like hers because I see in them missed opportunities for Christians to embody the Gospel that saves us from sin. I fear that saved, washed-in-the-blood believers may be caught in the same false understanding of the Pharisees: that showing mercy to Maddi means diminishing her sin. No one was more opposed to sin than Jesus Christ and no one showed more mercy to sinners than He did during His three-year ministry on earth.

As Roland C. Warren notes, “Without sin, there is no need for grace and mercy. Without grace and mercy, there is no solution to sin.” My prayer is that we respond to women like Maddi with the response of Christ. A response that affirms the sinfulness of fornication, but does not think for a second that our self-made consequences or social pressure will pay God’s price for such sin or are sufficient to prevent our sinful hearts from violating righteous rules. Such beliefs can be found in every world religion but are foreign to the Gospel.
The price has already been paid. Forgiveness and grace are ours in Christ, regardless of whether we are the repentant fornicator or the repentant legalist. The question remains if we will extend that same mercy to the sinners we know, serve, and minister to, or if we will remain, stone in hand, crying for the sinner to pay.

Let’s never forget that it is still finished.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Pro-Human Story

Not too long ago social media was being blown up with cries of anger and injustice. It started with a family taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather and ended with a violent and senseless murder. Some people say it was an accident, others claimed the parents were negligent and caused the death. Phrases like “no choice” and “no other way” were repeated by eyewitnesses. No matter what stance people took, they all agreed it was a tragedy.   Police thoroughly investigated and reviewed the “evidence” including eyewitness accounts and videos. National news was made and journalists were sent from thousands of miles to get the inside scoop. A memorial of stuffed animals and flowers were laid outside of the victim’s home to show the world how much he would be missed. The victim? Harambe, a 17 year old western lowland gorilla.

 Why is it so easy for America to stand up for animals but so quick to remain silent on the issue of abortion. Why do we as a society mourn the loss of an animal but look away from the 3000 innocent lives murdered each day by abortion?

What is it going to take for us to take a stand for human life? I keep seeing #alllivesmatter all over social media, but do we really feel that way? What are we doing to show women that not only do their lives matter but also how precious the life of their unborn child? I’m not talking about standing outside of abortion clinics screaming obscenities like ‘you are going to hell ’or‘ God hates murderers.’

So many of the women choosing abortion already feel unloved and under-supported.  They don’t need strangers yelling at them.  They need Jesus. They need us to see them through the eyes of our Lord and Savior. These women are yearning for someone to hug them and say, “you are strong enough to handle these unintended circumstances”  Your local pregnancy center reaches these girls by building relationships and surrounding them in love and acceptance from the moment they find out they are expecting.

There are so many ways to get involved:  with your prayers for these girls, for your center.  By volunteering at your local pregnancy center – maybe as a client advocate,  or help fold the thousands of paper pamphlets that go out weekly.   Maybe you don’t really have a lot of time to donate, but you do have the financial resources. Your $30 each month could provide about a weeks’ worth of pregnancy tests at your local pregnancy center.

Some of us are called to protest, and stand outside an abortion clinic.  Others are called to a gentler, kinder support, like your local pregnancy center.  At Community Pregnancy Center we peacefully reach out to the young women AND men who need to know they are valued and can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” Isaiah 1:17

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Muslim Story

She walked into the center with her head down and, hidden under her coverings. Because she had lived in America just one year, she didn’t know English well enough to read the general questions on our form. Her husband signed her name and answered every question for her. Reviewing the completed intake sheet, our Client Advocate read the client’s religion: Muslim. This Wednesday morning appointment was a practicing Muslim from Israel. Our Client Advocate took a deep breath and prayed for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading. She knew what we all know in this pregnancy center: every client is brought here on purpose by God Himself to know the passionate pursuit of the Savior. The Client Advocate led the woman in to counseling room.

She began the appointment with the basic, required questions on our intake form. She asked about previous pregnancies-the client had none. She asked about drinking or drugs-the client did none. She asked about her husband, and the client beamed with pride, saying in English as best as she could say, “I love my husband, and my husband loves me very much!” They had just been married one year. They both grew up in Israel, but he moved to America 20 years ago. He built a life here, but one still incomplete. He returned to Israel, and married our client, bringing her back to America. After confirming the news through today’s positive pregnancy test, this was their first pregnancy.

The Client Advocate bravely asked this woman about her Muslim faith, genuinely wanting to understand religion through the eyes of this client. This was the woman’s background. This was her culture. This was what she had known for so long, and she did allow our Client Advocate to share about her own faith-the Christian faith. The counselor then introduced her to the God that she worships—the one and only Living King of Kings. She explained who God Almighty is. She explained who Jesus Christ is. She shared the unconditional hope in life and after death through the Savior of the World. The client nodded, comprehending all she could from the language.

Wanting to capitalize on this clearly divine opportunity, we offered this couple a limited ultrasound. Because we are not a medical facility, our abdominal ultrasounds do not investigate or diagnose any problems. Our volunteer nurses verify a baby’s presence in the uterus, listen to the heartbeat, and give a more accurate due date. This appointment was already a God-orchestrated moment to show this Muslim couple the love of Christ, so our Wednesday nurse, Claire, welcomed them into her ultrasound room. Together, they viewed the now 11 and a half week old baby.

     Claire explained that the baby already had the 4 chambers of the heart. She showed them the baby’s form as she measured the size. She gave them their first view of their baby, but so much more than that, she gave them a new, generous view of God’s love, pouring into them through a pregnancy center appointment. It was more than a machine with a monitor now showing a baby. It was a woman of God with saved heart showing the love of the Savior.

       After the ultrasound, Claire led them back to the counseling room to finish the appointment with their Client Advocate. The counselor shared their excitement over the ultrasound and asked the couple if they had any final questions. The husband then asked, “Where do you go to church?” A little surprised by the topic, the counselor told him the name of her church, her non-denominational Christian church. She knew their hearts were open, so she asked him about his religion. He too was a practicing Muslim, but he admitted, “I’ve been comparing them, Muslim and Christian. I want to know more now.” The Holy Spirit was active and obvious and led our counselor to share Jesus Christ with this seeking soul. At the husband’s request, the Client Advocate gave them a Bible to study and the name of a church to visit. She told this husband of the loving God who already made a way to Heaven for ALL who will accept Him. He wanted to take his wife to our Thursday classes, but more importantly, he wanted to take his wife to the Christian church to learn more about the God shown at this pregnancy center.

The couple left in overwhelming gratitude, ready to pursue this new love they experienced today. We praise God for the honor of showing this lost world even a glimpse of the Living, Loving Lord of Lords.

“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
John 13:35

Contributed by Hannah Crocker

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Agonizing Decision – When Does Life Begin 

     At Community Pregnancy Center, and when I am in speaking with a client, the truth is what we share.  In fact, that is how we often describe the pregnancy center, Sharing Truth-Offering Hope-Saving Lives.  I so often do not understand the debate over abortion; it is so clear to me life begins at conception-at that very moment thcell has a distinct DNA signature different from any other species on this planet.  It is a baby, yes it needs 36-40 more weeks to develop into a  a sweet, crying, wiggling, poopy-diaper baby boy or girl, but it is alive.  By day 21 - almost before you realize you are pregnant, baby has a heartbeat!  As early as 18 weeks she is beginning to hear car doors slam, and is intimately aware of the sound of momma's heartbeat and breathing and, can recognize the sweet sound of her voice.  At 8-10 weeks we can watch baby, on the ultrasound, roll over and wave at mom and dad.  This is LIFE.  For me, there is no question, but like the resident doctor in essay #4 (  Yahoo Health - The agonizing decision  ),   I share the truth, we don't have to lie or embellish the truth of abortion, because the truth is scary enough, but we share the truth for a women or teen girl so they know every option available:  this joy and trials of parenting, the fear and heroic-ness of adoption, and the sadness and side-effects of abortion.   
     We don't do or refer, or even give the locations available for abortions.  We do pray, with the client if she agrees (and yes she usually wants our prayers), with each other, we are devastated when lives are lost and, rejoice when lives are saved and redeemed.   
     We are pro-life.  We, at Community Pregnancy Center, not only want to see a life saved, but a life fulfilled; we can provide diapers and clothes,  strollers and furniture and, referrals to food and formula banks as a woman or teen girl works to break through the "ceiling" of a single parent and expected poverty levels.  CPC encourages continuing education, college, we refer to "friendly" work agencies, and want each baby, momma, and dad to know a Savior, establish a family - at home and in a church, and if they will allow us, we love on them sometimes for years to come... At CPC we are pro-life.   
     Are you pro-life?  Will you join us as we minister to women, teen girls, young men, and babies - Sharing Truth-Offering Hope-Building Families.  -community pregnancy center     
"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."    Psalm 139:15-16