Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Faith Booster!

Just Sunday, I posted about an abortion clinic that opened in our town a couple of years ago.  Last evening we received word that the clinic has officially closed.  This was a surprise and a half!  God is working!  The crisis pregnancy center had been told that Capital Care would be open on January 28th and then closing.  They didn't spread the news because they weren't sure whether to believe it.  Their prayers were answered when the suite was emptied out yesterday!  Typing this totally gives me chills!  10 days ago, we were praying in front of that place, and today it is closed.  God be praised.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

40 Years. 55,000,000 Lives.

When I was a girl, our family attended meetings of Lima's chapter of the National Right to Life Association.  I vividly remember hearing stories, seeing pictures, and viewing footage that told the despicable horrors of an industry seemingly too evil to exist anywhere near American soil.  Was there really a woman who would walk into a clinic to have her baby prodded, pulled into pieces, sucked from her body, and disposed with the rest of the garbage?  My childish mind was overwhelmed by the despicable nature of abortion, and I always assumed that these things happened in far away places to evil people by doubly evil physicians.  I don't believe that I really thought abortion would be legal for more than a few years; I mean, once lots of people found out about this awful thing, surely Americans would do something about it, right?  Isn't everyone safe in America? 

As I grew up and entered high school, the passion for life that my parents had instilled in me continued to grow.  Abortion continued to be legal, and the pro-life movement hadn't made the kind of progress I had hoped to see.  Sometimes I would go to church and wonder how we could all just sit there and worship in peace and happiness when babies had no guarantees to even take their first breath, much less worship their Creator. 

I will never forget the day I found out that a guy, who was at one time a close friend of mine, had recently taken his girlfriend to have their baby aborted.  It seemed like such a cold-blooded decision.  I couldn't imagine that it was even true until one night I received a phone call from him.  He was straight to the point, and this was his message to me: "Stay out of our decision and keep your mouth shut."  I hadn't talked to him in awhile, but this tone seemed so foreign to his usually happy demeanor.  There was a hardness, and I knew that not only had a woman and a baby been affected, but a man's life was forever changed, as well.

High school turned to college.  I had spent a lot of time in the Mt. Auburn area of Cincinnati well before college days, and knew that a large, busy abortion clinic existed right there on Auburn Ave.  I passed it many times during my four-years in the area, and every single time my heart and my conscience would speak to me about the atrocities that took place inside that gated, cold, chamber of death.  Could it really be that a historic Bible College existed mere blocks from the awful place and yet the presence of God that so permeated the college campus and its students wasn't strong enough to reach over and protect the innocent?   In retrospect, I don't remember at any time during my college experience hearing about opportunities for students to share God's love in sidewalk counseling, through quiet prayer, or even silent witness there at Planned Parenthood - Mt. Auburn.  I participated in pretty major crusades against drugs in our community and adjacent neighborhoods, but I don't remember efforts being made by our students for the babies.  Maybe there were and I'm just not remembering.

Then life took me back to my home community to live with my husband, raise a family, and begin a career - all of this in my hometown, which was still free from the disgrace of an abortion clinic.  Two years later, we elected a pro-life President and with that election came a sense of hope that life would triumph soon. 

Eight years passed, legislation was written {and in some states became law}, and then Americans elected the most pro-abortion President our country has ever seen. For unbelievable evidence, visit www.jillstanek.com.   It is disturbing and chilling to see how far then-Senator Obama would go to make sure a baby didn't have a chance at life. 

In 2010, my conservative hometown quietly accepted its first abortion clinic.  In fact, it was open for some time before many of us knew it existed.  Capital Care of Lima does not perform surgical abortions, but they refer those patients to their offices in other Ohio locations.  Of course, they do offer non-surgical abortion options for women whose pregnancies are yet young enough.  As soon as I found out that Capital Care had opened its doors here, I looked up their website.  I guess I had to see for myself that they really were what I had heard they were.  Once again, I couldn't believe that we were sitting by and allowing this to creep into our community!

The lone silver lining in this dark cloud was that our crisis pregnancy center was able to open a satellite office right next door to the abortion clinic.  By next door, I mean the next suite.  They share a roof!  God worked in amazing ways to allow Heartbeat of Lima to acquire the means for renting the office space, and then He equipped them with the machines to do ultrasounds, as well as volunteer technicians to perform them and volunteer medical doctors to oversee the whole thing! 

I really feel that this battle for life will not be won politically.  However, we must still speak with our vote.  This battle likely will not be won with gruesome placards and horrific stories. Yet they still have their place.  It seems to me that in the fight against abortion - or for life - we will be victorious as we put ourselves out there to be a friend to the woman who is in trouble.  Heartbeat of Lima knows when that clinic is open, and they have sidewalk counselors ready to greet every single woman who walks toward that abortion clinic.  The sidewalk counselor is kind, concerned, trained, and offers a free ultrasound.  Every single week I get emails telling me, to the best of their knowledge, how many have continued on to their appointment next door, how many have come in for the free ultrasound, and how many have asked for help with an adoption plan.  How I rejoice when I receive those emails!  And you know what?  Some months, that abortion clinic is hardly even open!  Praise the Lord!

Statistics say that 1 of every 3 women has had at least one abortion.  In the last 40 years, 55,000,000 pre-born babies have been murdered.  Numerous reports of botched abortions have surfaced.  In many cases, the infant victims have been left to die in a soiled linen area of the hospital (again, see www.jillstanek.com).  In some of the states abortion is restricted, but in others it is practically on demand.  As Planned Parenthood bloats itself with US tax dollars (to an even greater extent as the Affordable Care Act takes effect), reaches its way even further into America's schools, and continues to forge tight relationships with organizations that have a huge impact on girls, we must continue to share the message of life

We are pretty good at having babies, but how good are we at sharing with women of all ages that life is a gift from God?  That a baby is a baby from the moment it is created?  How good are we at supporting those who are on the front lines of the choose life movement?  Do we find it easier to gather our kids around the dinner table, think happy thoughts, and ignore the whole mess?  Let me encourage you to be the person who is approachable.  People are carrying burdens.  Apparently one out of every three women has faced a pretty major crisis, and let me assure you...if they've already had an abortion, they are gonna need a shoulder.  A post-abortive mom said this to me just last week, "In the schools where I speak, I tell the girls that they may not regret their abortion the next day, or even the next week, but at some point they will regret it."  Hers was 35 years ago.  And tears were still streaming as she spoke of it.  She's still regretting.

There is so much to say on this topic.  There is an evil churning in America that we can't really see.  It is a connection that ties liberal feminists, blood -thirsty abortion doctors, wealthy political figures, and women who are at their weakest moments physically and emotionally.  This connection is reaching deeply into America's education system, from elementary schools to universities.  They have found that the best way to get to women is to become their friend before they hit the high school years.

I think that most of us want to be pro-active, but we don't always know where to start.  I think we need to understand that the little things matter.  If you are wanting to become active in the fight for life in your community, I encourage you to:
  • Become knowledgeable about the legal case Roe v. Wade.  Learn from trusted sources, not those who would try to gloss over the truth.
  • Read the book Won By Love, which is the story of Norma McCorvey (the Roe in Roe v. Wade).  For a quick overview, follow this link to her story.  Unbelievable.  This whole case was based on trickery.
  • Investigate clubs and social organizations before supporting them.  You know those famous, yummy boxes of cookies that are sold every spring?  I haven't bought one in years.  Do your homework.  Planned Parenthood gets its money from lots of places.
  • Teach your children - and every child you influence - about the value of life.
  • Seek our your local crisis pregnancy center and volunteer your help.
  • Every time you leave your home, pray that God will direct you to someone who needs you.  If you spend time at the library, the grocery store, the park, or the museum, you will likely pass many people who have been affected by abortion.  You may be the one who helps to show them the path to life. 
I'm hopeful that the next generation is going to be the "generation of life." 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Do in 2013

As I mentioned in my first post of the year, I don't particularly like New Year's resolutions. I think it's mostly because of their reputation, but for whatever reason, they just don't appeal to me. Goals, however, are a different story. The old saying, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time," is absolutely true.  And I sometimes I find myself either barely maintaining, or even falling behind because either I haven't been organized or I've just simply overestimated what I could do.

With the craziness of each holiday season, my goals usually aren't in place until late January, but that's ok. The important thing is that I take the time to assess where I am, where I need to be, and the steps that I will make to bridge that gap. It really doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.

In that earlier post, I referred to three goals that I have set for this year.  Additionally, and more specifically, there are other areas of my life and my home that need attention.  Those that are standing out to me are:
  • focus on my overall health and well being - more about that in another post
  • organize/catalogue the enormous amounts of sheet music that are here and there around my house
  • develop a "me" corner in my house to help streamline all of the bills/coupons/documents that are a part of running a household (I would also use it as an area to work on the "work" things that I end up bringing home)
  • build upon the "5 meal plan" format for menus (rather than a certain meal on a certain day, keeping 5 meals ready and accessible so that we choose what sounds good on any given day and know that it is all there and easy to prepare)
  • grocery shop before school on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday each week - it's a chore for me, and I feel incredibly defeated when I take time away from the family for random and frequent grocery stops
  • get rid of piles of stuff - it isn't all junk, but there is a lot of stuff, primarily in the garage...still packed in boxes...since last April/May - good chance we don't need it
  • move all photos to an external hard drive {which I first have to buy} and compile albums containing pictures from the last five or six years - yeah, I'm way behind - it's gonna be expensive, but I like to have family albums so that we can enjoy them the old-fashioned way  
  • finish the house remodel - there are a few pesky things left to do
Considering the fact that we are heading into a crazy busy season, achieving any of these goals is going to take extra effort and focus.  I plan to blog about each of them, hoping that will provide me a healthy dose of motivation.

So, stay tuned...I'll probably be asking for advice!  :-)

Friday, January 11, 2013


There's no better place to be on a Friday night than home with my family!  Ok, so Thursday night at Biggby wasn't too shabby either (it's justified...I was grading papers...lol), but after a busy week, it's comforting to have a cozy, warm place to hang out and enjoy one another.  God is good.


With lots of ripe bananas hanging out in my kitchen, I decided to make a batch of Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and a batch of banana muffins.  The kids were anxious for the muffins - I was anticipating cookies.  Lucky for them, I started the muffins first and ran out of eggs.  :-)  It's been awhile since the combined aroma of cinnamon, vanilla, and banana has been in my kitchen...too long, in fact, and I'm enjoying it immensely.

This week I read a book titled Attack Your Day Before It Attacks You  by Mark Woods.  Because planning my day early is a weakness of mine, I was challenged by the solutions that Woods offered.  Particularly intriguing was the segment on distractions.  He mentioned that distraction recovery (the time it takes to re-focus following a distraction) can take three times as long as the distraction itself.  I don't think I had ever heard that, but it really makes sense that it would be a valid statement.  Sometimes I become so frustrated because I seem to get less done now than in the same amount of time nine years ago when three of my kids were practically babies and number four wasn't even on the horizon!    Granted, I was nine whole years younger, but really my energy levels should be higher now than then simply because I actually get sleep, I'm not nursing, and my kids are pretty self-sufficient (with guidance, of course!).  I should have more disposable time because I'm not changing diapers, fiddling with car seats, and rocking babies.

But the whole distraction thing has me thinking.  Thinking about myself, my students, highly productive people I know, and less productive people I know.  How much of my day is eaten by distraction recovery?  For instance, I'm grading papers and have to make a call to a parent about something.  As soon as I pick up my phone, I see that I have four texts and six new emails all within the last 30 minutes.  Instead of just making the call and resuming grading, I reply to each text, and read and respond to the emails that aren't junk.  Yes, this is just one little time-sucking example, but this process repeated throughout the day is a recipe for time-management disaster!

Although I'm still in the process of identifying distractions, I really want to develop a plan to be more focused and productive.  I believe I'll be doing little time studies on myself next week, seeing what I actually accomplish in small blocks of time.  I may even have to put a rubber band on my wrist every time I recognize a distraction, just to see how many rubber bands I accumulate by the end of the day.  :-)

But for now, I'll just enjoy having banana muffins with my kids - without wishing the muffins were Banana Oatmeal Choc Chip Cookies - and snuggle in with them on the couch to watch a powerful DVD that we feel it is finally time to share with the family (Sarah's Choice). 

I hope your weekend is full of love, warmth, and worship!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

EASY 1-2-3 Peanut Butter Cookies

If you're anything like me, you need some quick, on-the-go recipes that require few ingredients and little time. This one is worth sharing!

1 C. sugar
1 C. peanut butter (any kind will do)
1 egg

Mix ingredients well. Roll into balls and bake at 350 for 6-11 minutes (depending on type of cookie sheet...my stone takes 11 minutes).
Immediately place a Hershey kiss in the middle of each cookie and let sit for 2 minutes.
These are a hit. The tray is always empty!

**There are easy variations, such as adding in chocolate chips or adding baking powder to make them a little lighter, but I think this taste is plenty good enough!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


The house is silent, except for the gentle roar of the dishwasher.  The kids are sleeping soundly in preparation for their first day back to school.  Their excitement is fueled by the fact that tomorrow is their Christmas party, which had to be canceled earlier due to a winter storm.  I have been reminded of how quickly they are growing, how short our time really is, and how much I must make the most of each moment we have together. 

My husband is sleeping in preparation for another workday.  I'm thankful he was able to spend the holiday at home with us.  He usually finds something important to do even on his days off, and today was no different; he spent this morning installing and trimming out an oak door for our basement.  How I love this man I married!  I can honestly say he loves me just like the Bible tells him to.  I don't take that for granted.  Not for one second.

And then there is me.  Sitting up way too late, clicking away at the keyboard.  The festive, lively atmosphere created by the guests of our New Year's Eve party just 24 short hours ago has been replaced by a quiet, purposefully reflective serenity that begs me to evaluate where I am and where I want to be at the close of 2013, which we all know will be here much too quickly.

I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions.  Maybe it's because I don't know that I will have the resolve to lose 50 pounds like my husband has, organize my house from top to bottom like some of the bloggers I envy, or even move my photos to a storage device like any smart person who knows that the inevitable always happens. 

But in the quiet of my mind, it seems that God is directing me to Ecclesiastes 9:10.  It's a verse that most of us learned as children:

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;
for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom,
in the grave, whither thou goest." 
As I stand here at the brink of a new year, I don't find myself awash with new responsibilities or new opportunities.  My assignments could be seen by many as boring or repetitive.  However, they are mine.  And I want to do them better.  I want to do them with all of my might, knowing that exercising my will toward the will of my Master in turn strengthens me for greater responsibilities and greater opportunities. 
Three of my goals for this year:
  • LOVE - my husband as perfectly as possible
  • NURTURE - my children and the children that are entrusted to me in the classroom
  • SERVE - those who need me most, in my family, my church, and my community
The words love, nurture, and serve sound short and sweet, and even easy.  But I know the depth of meaning they contain.  When we put our heart and our hands behind these words, there will likely be pain and sacrifice involved.  That is part of being better.  Being willing to lay aside our hurts, our comforts, our ambitions if necessary, to fulfill His Will.  
Happy New Year!