Fall 2018 Newsletter
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7How would you feel about that truth if you had an abortion in your past? Society would love us to believe that the option to have an abortion empowers women. However, many available sources tell us that it is quite the opposite. In fact, it tends to lead to a place of shame, depression, and loss. Yet, the opportunity and the act happen at a rapid pace — as more than 2,500 abortions occur in the United States every day.Thus, if ComfortCare Women’s Health seeks to promote the value of life through the love of Jesus Christ, it includes our outreach efforts to women who have had an abortion. In fact it is a privilege to step into those places, as God calls us to share love, freedom, and grace…no matter what decisions are in her past. So through this newsletter, we want to invite you to learn more about the realities of abortion decisions, the impact, and our post-abortive program called HEART (Healing Emotions and Renewing the Heart). Join us as we seek to let women in our community know that this program exists and that they, too, can walk free “according to the riches of his grace.”Stephanie Crawford
President & CEO
|Meet Barbara Medaries…
Barbara Medaries is ComfortCare’s faithful volunteer leader of the HEART Bible Study. She has been involved in leading or co-leading this study for more than 15 years. While originally a Michigan native, she moved to Virginia in 1975 with her husband, Richard, and their growing family. She is now a wife of 44 years, a mother to 4, and grandmother to 7! ComfortCare is blessed by her dedication to this ministry and her ceaseless prayers to lead post-abortive women to freedom. We recently sat down and talked more specifically about her passion and insights for the HEART program:
Why do you lead HEART? Primarily, I became involved with this ministry because the Lord brought me to it. After participating in the Bible study as a group member myself, I was convinced that facilitating the group was how God wanted me to contribute as a volunteer at CCWH. Since my involvement in facilitating the groups, the blessings have far outweighed the effort of leading.
What is the impact that you see through this program? As with myself, I see women who have been in bondage to shame, guilt, unforgiveness and grief set free to walk in a new way. We have become the women God has called us to be when we forgive others and ourselves, learning how to cope with the reminders of the past but not fall victim to them. The group model is so effective because a woman needs to hear from others that have walked in her shoes – to see that she is not alone.
What advice would you give to someone that learns of a woman struggling with an abortion in her past?Please love that woman and assure her she can have hope for the future! Recommend she get in touch with her local pregnancy center, like ComfortCare, and ask for post-abortion info. She deserves freedom and there are people that want to walk along her in that journey.
|Testimony from two recent HEART participants:
Thoughts from the HEART Bible StudyI just completed the HEART Bible Study at Comfort Care in Staunton, VA.. I believe this was the “missing link” that connected the dots related to the aftereffects of the abortion I had almost 40 years ago at age 19, and brought about healing in two specific areas that I didn’t even know needed to be healed! I just knew that something was still wrong, but never connected it to that abortion. For the past several months, I had been working two 12-Step Recovery programs from issues related to past sexual abuse, and a long term marriage which ended in divorce 4 years ago. I had been dealing specifically with events that happened my freshman year of college, 40 years ago but which were still affecting me: I had been raped, then went on a self- destructive path of promiscuity, which eventually led to getting pregnant and choosing to have an abortion. I blocked these events from my mind as much as I could, and attempted to “start over.”
A few months ago, I was at church, and while in one of the restrooms that I never used, I “happened” to glance over at a HEART brochure on the countertop near the sink. My eyes were drawn to it, so I picked it up and was shocked when I read about some of the symptoms many women experience who have had abortions. I had SEVERAL of these, but would never have guessed there was any connection. This was truly God’s perfect timing.
As I began the HEART study, I realized that I had treated all the events of that freshman year of college as “separate events” rather than one long continuum of emotional wreckage, where one thing led to another, culminating in the abortion. Over the years, I had worked many aspects of the abortion to try and get healing and forgiveness, and although I knew God had forgiven me, there were still “residual effects” lingering within me. Particularly for my generation of women, abortion is something that is not talked about. Like many others, I stuffed my feelings. Many of us often deny that it even happened because we’ve blocked it so much, and often experience the grief by ourselves, not knowing where to turn. I learned through this study that now they recognize the aftereffects as “Post Abortion Syndrome” and thankfully many women are now getting the help they need.
I thought I was still filled with self-hate and condemnation, but as the study unfolded, I gained clarity and discovered that I was harboring a huge resentment towards my mother in my choice to abort. I also discovered that many women who choose abortion also want to get pregnant again soon after, and try to become “supermoms.” In my case, I chose to adopt and try to become a “supermom.” That was 20 years ago, and all these years I’ve berated myself that I could never be a good enough parent. Through the material in the study guide, I realized just this past week that I had still been living under the guilt of the abortion, trying to “earn” my forgiveness. A giant lightbulb when off in my head! I no longer had to live this way! I could FINALLY let it go!
I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from me –my sleep is even better! I’m grateful to the volunteers at Comfort Care who facilitated this Bible Study, and walked with me every step of the way!
A few years ago, a woman joined the HEART Bible study at ComfortCare. In her words, she describes it as the steps she needed to know the “extent of God’s love and grace toward His children.” After that experience, she shared her story in an interview that was later posted on a local blog. Her words of shame, her words of freedom, and her encouragement to anyone that is living with an abortion in her past are a testament to the glory of God.
IN HER SHOES: A CHRISTIAN WOMAN WHO’S HAD AN ABORTION
Describe the circumstances surrounding your first abortion.
I had grown up in a Christian family, but in my college and adult years, I was not walking with the Lord. I was, however, seeking the attention of men. I lived a promiscuous and partying lifestyle. One night, I was with a guy I was casually dating. We drank too much and had sex without using protection. In the morning, aware of not using protection, I worried. If Plan B existed at the time, I probably would have used it.
A week or two went by and I went out with some old college friends, one of whom was a guy I’d known. Again, I drank too much, as did he, and we ended up in bed together.
Later that month, I missed my period, took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. Because I’d slept with two men in two weeks, I didn’t know who the father was. I felt so much shame that my promiscuous lifestyle had gotten me to a point to where I didn’t know who fathered the child. I was further conflicted because the first guy was of a different race, so I knew if I brought it to term, it would be obvious who the father was. I couldn’t face the shame of trying to figure out who the father was, the shame of sleeping with two guys in two weeks, so I told the first guy I was pregnant. He said immediately, “We need to pursue an abortion. This is not something I want.” Because I was pursuing acceptance from men, I wanted to do what he wanted to do, to please him. I don’t know what I would have done if he said that he wanted me to have the baby. I think I was relieved when he said he did not because that meant I did not have to face the issue of paternity. I also lived very much in the world. I believed the baby in me was just cells, not a living thing.
I found an abortion clinic. He drove me, he paid for it, and he was there the whole time, attentive to me. The physician was nice, comforting us with the idea that we were doing the right thing. She was maternal and seemed to care for me. And so we had the abortion. I was awake the whole time. I remember feeling taken care of, which is strange to say. I felt this doctor had my best interest at heart. I never was offered an ultrasound, at least not that I remember. Part of the problem is that I stuffed the feelings down so far that I don’t remember much, but I do remember feeling I was in good hands.
Afterward, I went home and slept for a long time. I felt enormous relief at not having to face the shame of the pregnancy and figuring out who the father was. But I also remember thinking what a horrible person I was because I made this guy believe this baby was his, and I don’t even know if it was.
Describe the circumstances surrounding your second abortion.
Years went by, but not much had changed in my life. I was still in rebellion against God. I started seriously dating a man, and we got pregnant. When I told him I was pregnant, he didn’t want the baby. He said, “This isn’t how you do it. This isn’t how people have babies. You have to be married to have babies.” He was very aware of perception. This time I was in a different place. I knew who the dad was. I was financially sound. I could have raised the child by myself. My life was much more together by this point. But again, I wanted to do what the guy wanted to do, because I foresaw that keeping the baby would mean losing him. I was also still convinced that as long as I got an abortion before the end of the first trimester, it was just a bunch of cells.
Again, I found an abortion clinic, but my experience was very different from the first one. The clinic environment was very cold. I was one of 8-10 women on stretchers shoved in what seemed like a big shower room. There was a room to the side where they would take each woman one by one and then bring her back and offer her orange juice and crackers. None of us spoke a word to one another. I don’t remember hearing crying, but I felt it was very strange that we were all there for the same purpose, but none of us spoke to one another. The shame was palpable. And then it was my turn. I was wheeled into the side room. I wasn’t given any pain medication, and I remember every painful tug. I remember thinking to myself, “I deserve every painful thing I’m feeling. How did I get in this position again?” The doctor was an old man who didn’t talk to me at all as he ripped this baby from my womb. He didn’t care at all about me. It was like he was disgusted with me and I remember feeling he has every right to be disgusted. I disgusted myself.
The guy I was dating went with me, although I don’t remember him being there. I felt completely alone. It was me who had to take care of it, me who had to go through it. I felt that way, although he was there and was supportive in the way he thought he could be. I felt completely alone. I only know that he was there because we talked about it years later.
I went home and slept. Like the first one, I felt an enormous amount of relief, as if it never happened, but I also felt intense shame that I’d allowed this to happen twice.
Describe the next few years. What were the after-effects of abortion that you were living with?
A couple of years after my second abortion, I got married. Soon after that, I started to feel a pursuit from the Lord. I can’t verbalize it fully, but I knew He was pursuing me and giving me a desire to go back to Him.
My husband and I started trying to have kids. When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited. I remember thinking, “This is what it should feel like”. Throughout the pregnancy and after our baby was born, however, I often thought, “Oh my goodness, what did I do? This was a human being, a soul. I can never be forgiven for that. Horrible people do this.”
At that point, I was heavily reconnecting with my faith and pursuing God, and I was unsure how I was going to reconcile my past with where I was headed. I decided not even to attempt to reconcile it but to bury it. I would pursue my faith and try not to let my memories and thoughts ever come to the surface, and, if they did, I’d stuff them back down.
There were two big lies I believed. One was that I didn’t have to tell anyone about my abortions because it wasn’t having any ramifications in my life. The second lie I’d convinced myself of was that there would be no freedom in confession. I didn’t think that in order to heal that I’d have to uncover and wrestle with what I’d done.
But I was wrong. I did have to pick open the wound in order to heal.
Read the rest of the blog here: http://www.gracecoversme.com/2015/04/in-her-shoes-christian-woman-whos-had_9.html
|The HEART program follows the well known Bible study, “Forgiven and Set Free” by Linda Cochrane. When we receive an interest in attending the study, we meet with the woman individually to explain the program and material and ensure that she is ready to go through this process and commitment. If mutually agreed that the timing is right, we ask her to go ahead and start working through the first two chapters of the study to discuss at our first meeting.
We start with a mini-retreat on a Friday evening and for several hours on a Saturday. This content opens the path for the remainder of the study by first addressing where she needs healing and then into understanding the character of God and how that applies to her situation. From there, the HEART meetings transition to once a week for 6 weeks. These meetings go through the stages of grief, common sentiments for post-abortive women. After the study discussion each evening, we end the meeting with “The Living Scripture”, which includes a scripture reading, personal application, and prayer time.
Each study has 2 co-leaders and no more than 3 to 4 women participants at a time. In facilitating the study, this size gathering offers the most effective forum to openly discuss and grow through the process.
The next HEART group will begin (tentatively) September 28-29.
For more info, or to register for HEART, call Barbara Medaries at 540-290-5327 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The Stride for Life Walk and 5K will take place in Lexington on September 29th. The 5K and the walk will both take place near our Lexington Clinic on Waddell Street.
How can you bring the Stride for Life to YOUR church?
• Sign up to be a Stride Coach – email Jerelyn for more info.
• Sign up to participate as a walker or runner (or both!) and invite friends and family to sponsor you financially.
• Show our Stride video in your church. (email us for the link to the video)
• Pick up sponsor forms and posters at our clinic to distribute to your church members.
• Like our Supporter Facebook page and keep up with event details!
• Go to our Stride page for more info
We invite you to Come to the Table this fall for our annual Fundraising Banquet on Tuesday, October 16th.
The banquet will be held at Cornerstone Church of Augusta this year. Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm. Our program will feature a Ministry Report from Stephanie Crawford, patient stories heard directly from a few of our recent patients, and featuring guest speaker, Rosalinda Rivera.
Join us this year – you’re in for an evening of inspiration and blessing!
Would you host a table at this year’s banquet? Email us for info.
|Be sure to Like our Facebook page for frequent updates about what’s going on at ComfortCare!|
*CareNet (April 2018). Facts on Abortion. Retrieved from https://affiliates.care-net.org.