Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our New Story

     For those of you I've kept waiting, I'm so sorry!  I think once you hear the whole story, you will understand.  My intention was to have this written before we left on the long trip that would be the beginning of our new story.  However, the trip was a logistical nightmare and so that didn't happen.  Then, the whirlwind trip started and once it started, there was no stopping it.

     Without further delay.... here you go... OUR NEW STORY.

     Sometimes life is better viewed in reverse.  What does that mean?  That means sometimes in the midst of living life, it doesn't make any sense at all.  Like... at all... at all!  It doesn't make any sense... until you look back.

     In the late fall of 2011, my husband was asked to run for Ohio State Senate.  The senator in our district, wouldn't sign the Heartbeat Bill.  That's a bill that says once the heartbeat of a baby is detected, an abortion can no longer be performed.  A group of people asked him to act like he was running in hopes that  once the senator got wind of it, she would sign the bill.  Well, long story short, she wouldn't sign.  My husband announced he was running, and just like that we were thrust into the nasty world of politics.  He ran a 6 week campaign with $4000 that was given to him along the way (we couldn't ask for money to run a campaign because we live on support... meaning people give to our ministry so we can live.) So we ran using social media and very, very little money.  Some have said she used about $250,000.  In the end, Paul got 32% of the vote.   Pretty good for having little time, little experience and little money!

     When it was over, to be honest, I wasn't sad he lost.  I had no desire to live that life, HOWEVER, I thought it was so weird he lost.  See, we firmly believe God asked us to run that political race; to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves, to fight for the unborn, and so we were willing.  The confusing part was... if we were certain, God asked us to do it... and we were certain... why didn't we win?  I was so puzzled.

     Then we got asked to move and that was an altogether different and awful whirlwind and I ended up 20 hours away from everything I have ever known.

     We weren't in our new location for very long when Paul ran across an article about how some kid and a van was changing the face of the pro life movement.  He read it and was so impressed that he decided to send them an encouraging email.  However, the email wouldn't go through.  He looked over the site some more and realized that this guy wasn't too far from us (like, a mile away).  So, he called him.  They had lunch the next day and Paul got to hear all about his organization called Save the Storks.

     Fast forward almost a year, hundreds of conversations, and lots of prayer and we have joined the team!

     Were we unhappy with the job we moved to take?  Absolutely not!!!  But joining the Save the Storks team just connected all the dots for us.  It seemed The Lord had been tilling the soil with what seemed like a random run for office 2 years ago.  We believe God used this to get us looking and thinking in the pro life direction.  We talked a great talk 2 years ago about fighting for the unborn and then it stopped there.

     This is the Holocaust of our time.  There have been 55 million abortions, 55 million lives ended.  What is our family doing to stop it?  What is our family doing to fight for life?  Step away from the Bible and what God says about life for a second, even though I could never live without God's Word.   Our country was built, established and I believe blessed by the Constitution.  In it we are told we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   THE RIGHT TO LIFE!  Have we missed this?

     So, our family is going to fight.  But, we are going to do it in a totally unconventional way.  Save the Storks takes Mercedes Sprinter Vans and turns them into mobile ultrasound units.  These vans are then parked across the street from abortion clinics.  Before our van arrives though, we contact the abortion clinic and let them know we are there.  We want them to know that we are not going to protest or talk bad about them, or be mean to them.  As a matter of fact, we are going to pray for them.  Then we offer them a choice.  And with the help of our board member, Abby Johnson, if any of them would like out of the abortion industry, we will write them a check for 3 months of their salary and help them find a new job.  As of today, over 90 people have left... including a doctor.

     Women that are walking into the abortion clinics are then offered a chance to see a free ultrasound of their baby.  Once those women see life on the 3 flat screens around that van, a high majority of them chose life.  But, they are not just choosing life for their baby, they are choosing life for themselves.  That's why the organization is named Save the Storks.  Research has proven and stories have been written about women who've chosen abortion in the past.  They spend the rest of their lives in regret and turmoil.  We don't want any woman to live like that.  We want to save them from a life where the past haunts them.

    Once a woman choses life, we connect them with people that can walk along beside them their entire pregnancy, and beyond.  This gives them counsel, love and options.

     And, like any good story, our story starts off with a bang.  Wait until you hear about the trip we just took to pick up Stork van #6!  (Not promising any timeline though.  Although, I am promising to write more.  I really miss writing!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Kind of Story is Your Family Living?

   How Jason Saved His Family

     When I got back from Los Angeles, I got together with my friend Jason who has a thirteen-year-old daughter.  He was feeling down because he and his wife had found pot hidden in their daughter's closet.  She was dating a guy, too, a kid who smelled like smoke and only answered questions with single words: "Yeah." "No." "Whatever." and "Why?."  And "Why?" was the answer Jason hated most.  Have her home by ten, Jason would say.  Why the guy would ask.  Jason figured this guy was the reason his daughter was experimenting with drugs.
     "You thinking about grounding her?" I asked.  "Not allowing her to date him?"
     "We've tried that.  But it's gotten worse."  Jason shook his head and fidgeted with his fingers on the table.
     Then I said something that caught his attention.  I said his daughter was living a terrible story.
     "What do you mean?" he asked.
     To be honest, I didn't know exactly what I meant.  I probably wouldn't have said it if I hadn't just returned from the McKee seminar.  But I told him about the stuff I'd learned, that the elements of a story involve a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  Even as I said this, I wasn't sure how it applied to his daughter.
     "Go on," my friend said.
     "I don't know, exactly, but she's just not living a very good story.  She's caught up in a bad one."  I said a lot of other things, and he kept asking questions.  We must have talked for an hour or more, just about story, about how novels work and why some movies are meaningful and others simply aren't.  I didn't think much of it.  I just figured he was curious about movies.
     A couple of months later I ran into Jason and asked about his daughter.  "She's better," he said to me, smiling.  And when I asked why, he told me his family was living a better story.

***  ***  ***   ***

     The night after we talked, Jason couldn't sleep.  He thought about the story his daughter was living and the role she was playing inside that story.  He realized he hadn't provided a better role for his daughter.  He hadn't mapped out a story for his family.  And so his daughter had chosen another story, a story in which she was wanted, even if she was only being used.  In the absence of a family story, she's chosen a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence.  "She's not a bad girl," my friend said.  "She was just choosing the best story available to her."
     I pictured his daughter flipping through the channels of life, as it were, stopping on a story that seemed most compelling at the moment, a story that offered her something, anything, because people can't live without a story, without a role to play.
     "So how did you get her out of it?" I asked.  And I couldn't believe what he told me next.
     Jason decided to stop yelling at his daughter and, instead, created a better story to invite her into.  He remembered that a story involves a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.
     "I started researching some stuff on the Internet." Jason said, "and I came across an organization that builds orphanages around the world.  And that sounded to me like a pretty good ambition, something maybe my family could try to do together.  It sounded like a good story."
     "Right," I said, trying to remember the elements of a story myself.
     "So I called this organization," Jason continued. "and it takes about twenty-five thousand dollars to build one of these orphanages.  And the truth is, we don't have the money.  I mean we just took out a second mortgage.  But I knew if we were going to tell a good story, it would have to involve risk."
     "That's true," I said, remembering it from the seminar.
     "So I went home and called a family meeting," my friend continued.  "I didn't tell my wife first,  which it turns out was a mistake.  But I told them about this village and about the orphanage and all these terrible things that could happen if these kids don't get an orphanage.  Then I told them I agreed to build it."
     "You're kidding me," I said.
     "No.  I'm not.  And my wife sat there looking at me like I'd lost my mind.  And my daughter, her eyes were as big as melons and she wasn't happy.  She knew this would mean she'd have to give up her allowance and who knows what else.  They just sat there in silence.  And, the longer they sat there, the more I wondered if I'd lost my mind too."
     "I actually think you might have lost your mind," I said, feeling somewhat responsible.
     "Well, maybe so," Jason said, looking away for a second with a smile.  "But it's working out.  I mean things are getting pretty good, Don."
     Jason went on to explain that his wife and daughter went back to their separate rooms and neither of them talked to him.  His wife was rightly upset that he hadn't mentioned anything to her.  But that night while they were lying in bed, he explained the whole story about how they weren't taking any risks and weren't helping anybody and how their daughter was losing interest.
     "The next day," he said, "Annie came to me while I was doing the dishes."  He collected his words. "Things had just been tense for the last year, Don.  I haven't told you everything.  But my wife came to me and put her arms around me and leaned her face into the back of my neck and told me she was proud of me."
     "You're kidding," I said.
     "I'm not," my friend said.  "Don, I hadn't heard Annie say anything like that in years.  I told her I was sorry I didn't talk to her about it, that I just got excited.  She said she forgave me but that it didn't matter.  She said we had an orphanage to build, and that we were probably going to make bigger mistakes, but we would build it."  My friend smiles as he remembered his wife's words.
     "And then Rachel came into our bedroom, maybe a few days later, and asked if we could go to Mexico.  Annie and I just sort of looked at her and didn't know what to say.  So then Rachel crawled between us in bed like she did when she was little.  She said she could talk about the orphanage on her web site and maybe people could help.  She could post pictures.  She wanted to go to Mexico to meet the kids and take pictures for her Web Site."
     "That's incredible," I said.
     "You know what else, man?" Jason said, "She broke up with her boyfriend last week.  She had his picture on her dresser and took it down and told he said she was too fat.  Can you believe that?  What a jerk."
     "A jerk," I agreed.
     "But that's done now," Jason said, shaking his head.  "No girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her.  She knows who she is.  She just forgot for a little while."

     This was Chapter 9 of Donald Miller's Book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

     Our family is getting ready to live a new story.  Details coming in 7 days.  One week from today people.
     Stay tuned.