At First Glance: Being seen as a post-abortive woman

My life forever changed in that room full of middle-aged women, dabbing their swollen eyes with crumpled tissues. I never wanted to be there, to be one of them, to bare my soul to strangers. But still I sat there, completely out of place. I constantly reminded myself why I was there. I was a young activist, determined to forever eradicate injustice. In an effort to better understand the effects of the rising abortion industry, I attended a retreat for post-abortive women.

It was divine mercy weekend when I attended the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, having never experienced an abortion or the loss of a child. A rather peculiar way for a nineteen-year-old to pass the weekend. I blame my English professor. The abortion issue wasn’t really a consideration for me until she gave us our final assignment; write a research argument on any controversial topic. Abortion seemed the logical choice. After all, it is arguably the most significant debate of our time. No matter your position, you are driven by what you believe to be fundamental rights. After I proposed my topic, she shook her head decidedly. “You can write about anything, except abortion. You cannot make a logical argument on the issue. The matter is purely religious. And who would you cite? Dot heaven?” Her last remark evoked snickers from the class. After a fair warning that every other student who had dared to attempt such a paper received an F, I wrote it. Providing evidence from medical journals and personal narratives, I argued that abortion jeopardizes the emotional and mental stability of the mother. And amazingly enough, I received an A.

I was completely familiar with the arguments surrounding the humanity of the unborn child, but until writing the paper, I never considered the damage abortion has on the mother. I sought out local leaders in the pro-life movement, hoping to help aid the cause. During one of my meetings with a passionate pro-life leader, I was asked to volunteer at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, as it is designed to help the men and women who have experienced the loss of a child through abortion or miscarriage find peace and healing. I agreed. Hesitantly. .

My uncertainty doubled when I discovered that before officially volunteering I was required to first experience this retreat as though I were any other attendee. And this scared me, quite a bit, actually. In fact, I was dreading it. I have been so blessed with an intact, loving family, so what on earth was I going to say for my twenty uninterrupted minutes?

I was right in assuming that the other personal stories would be filled with heartache; hearing them broke my heart. The three women who attended the retreat had all dealt with so much grief in their lives, even their earliest memories were tainted. I waited until everyone else had gone, still uncertain of what to say. I don’t know how or where it came from, but I heard myself relaying my silent struggles and insecurities. I didn’t speak for as long as they did, but I found it surprisingly emotional. In the end, it didn’t matter how different our stories were. Instead, we found the commonalities. Everyone reached out to one another, with merciful arms of acceptance.

This wasn’t the only time I stepped into the shoes of a post-abortive mother. It was January when a friend and I walked briskly to the Hillcrest abortion clinic, talking of trivial matters.  Our cold fingers, stuffed in coat pockets, fingered our wooden rosaries. Nearing the cracking sidewalk before the building, we met the gaze of an elderly woman standing in the clinic’s driveway. Certainly she was a sidewalk counselor, there in a last-ditch effort to save a baby. But she was shaking her head at me. “This isn’t a good place for women. You don’t want to be here.”

I was dazed at the realization that she mistook me for a woman seeking abortion. I heard my friend hurriedly explain that we were only here to pray. We proceeded with our peaceful prayers for the women who enter the clinic, as well as for the clinic workers, that they might realize the value and beauty of human life at every stage. But like a scratched record my mind continued to replay the moment. Again I saw the worried look plastered across her well-meaning face. And again my self-esteem was destroyed by the instantaneous mark upon my cherished reputation. My cheeks burned from the moment of shame.

I understand how it must have appeared. Me, a twenty year old with her head bent, accompanied by a young man. I reflected on her position, remembering when that was me praying on the split sidewalk, watching the women cut across the dead grass to enter the matchbox facility. I was seven when my family first took me there to pray, not fully understanding what was happening. I had wondered at cruelty of these women. My young mind struggled in vain to understand. While a young woman hurried into the stone structure, my tearing eyes followed her, for I knew she would leave empty, despite entering the structure with the living and thriving baby tucked safely away within her. I longed to call out to her, but my heart and feet stood frozen, too aware of the reality of the trying situation.

I am now well-educated on the abortion debate, thanks to five intense weeks of study in Washington, D.C. Determined to more fully understand the science and arguments involved in abortion, I spent my summer studying at the National Right to Life Academy. Yet even this did not soften my heart. Not completely. I needed first to sit beside a post-abortive mother as she mourned. As she read the letter composed to her dead child. As she named him. My heart needed to break along with hers. To become one of them. To fully realize that “if you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Writing a research argument paper on the negative effects abortion has on women opened my eyes to the horrors of abortion, particularly on the mothers themselves. I knew the facts, but until I heard each of these beautiful women’s stories, I did not fully realize the intense brokenness and pain abortion imprints on their lives. Women don’t simply wake up one morning and decide to abort their growing baby. So many people and decisions influenced that choice. It is of the utmost importance that we treat the women and men wounded by abortion with unadulterated compassion. We must strive to help them find the healing and forgiveness that in our humanity, we all desire.

 

Viral Photos Show Bride and Groom Surprising Grandma in the Hospital

Recently, a charming story celebrating life and family has gone viral.
It was Brian and Lauren Kurtulik’s wedding day. Rather than being absorbed by the festivities of the day, the couple began their married life together by bringing joy to Brian’s grandmother, who was stuck in the hospital, according to an article in Country Living.
It was on their wedding day when Peg McCormack slipped and hurt her ankle. The 91-year old grandmother was heartbroken when she was told that she couldn’t attend the wedding. She was already dressed for the occasion, with “her fancy shoes and corsage,” the photographer Rachel Nolan of Hello Gorgeous Photography explained. After being told that the couple might drop in the next day, she eagerly awaited their visit, the article states.
The couple decided to stop by the hospital before continuing on to the wedding venue. As the bride told The Huffington Post: “She was so excited to watch us get married. She was literally living for this wedding. So we brought the wedding to her.”

Legalized Murder or Death with Dignity?

The once unthinkable practice of euthanizing the helpless is becoming a reality. The recent resurfacing of the question of the morality and necessity of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia has stirred a great deal of debate amongst Americans. The arguments are highly passionate and emotional, as both sides fight for what they believe to be fundamental rights. Although the euthanasia advocates are correct in their concern for human rights, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are ultimately unethical practices that condone and promote murder. They force doctors into contradictory roles, where they both save lives and end them. This contradiction is unacceptable as end-of-life treatment continues to improve.
 
DOCTOR’S ROLE?
 
In order to properly determine what the physician’s role is, it is best to understand their historical role. Traditionally, the purpose of the doctor is to heal. We see this exemplified in the Hippocratic Oath. Since the 5th century B.C., The Hippocratic Oath has been used to define what it means to be a physician. Although it has recently been made optional, doctors were once required to swear the oath, and in doing so would vow, “And I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked [for it], nor will I suggest the way to such a counsel” (Miles xiii). This directly contradicts the more recent claim that doctors ought to assist their suffering patients in ending their lives, whether directly or through prescribed poison. In her article, Dr. Fiona Randall explains that the doctor’s role cannot include ending the lives of his or her patients, “while the role of the doctor has changed and may continue to develop it cannot (logically) extend to intentional killing or assisting with killing. If so extended then the concept of what it means to be a doctor must also radically change, and more than two millennia of settled public and medical opinion must be reversed” (Randall 324). As Dr. Randall just explained, this evolution in the doctor’s role would require them to first pursue their patient’s best interests, and then assist in their death. This greatly alters their original purpose in society.
 
In both the act of euthanasia and in physician-assisted suicide, the doctor plays a key role in ending another’s life. In euthanatizing someone, the doctor terminates a person who is either suffering, or else deemed “unworthy” to live (Smith). Similarly, physician-assisted suicide is directly linked to the doctor, as he or she gives the ill the means to end their lives. The Oregon Right to Life Organization defined physician-assisted suicide as involving, “a physician prescribing lethal drugs for a patient with the knowledge that the patient intends to use the drugs to commit suicide” (Oregon’s Assisted Suicide 157). In both cases, the physician is involved in the murder of an innocent life. This act does more than simply contradict their role as healer; it is an unethical practice that turns them into murderers. As the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force articulated, “Euthanasia is not about the right to die. It’s about the right to kill” (International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force 58). It is true that at times the patient requests their own death, but this does not excuse the moral culpability of the doctor.
 
IS IT BEST FOR THE PATIENT?
 
Those who support euthanasia and physician assisted-suicide believe they are acting from compassion, but in reality their arguments are based on inaccurate assumptions. For example, the right-to-die activists are convicted because they don’t believe any person should be made to suffer unnecessarily. However, in his article “Four Myths About Doctor-Assisted Suicide,” bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel revealed that only twenty-two percent of patients requesting euthanasia are enduring immense pain. Another misconception is that the majority of dying and terminally ill patients desire this option, but are unable to receive it because of current laws. Again, Emanuel affirms that the contrary is true, “In Oregon, between 1998 and 2011, 596 patients used physician-assisted suicide — about 0.2 percent of dying patients in the state. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been permitted for more than three decades, fewer than 3 percent of people die by these means” (Emanuel). Consequently, the “right to die” does not fill an urgent social need. Rather, it causes a great deal of problems for both patients and doctors. In addition to this, the opportunity for abuses by family members and physicians becomes a threat once euthanasia is legalized.
 
The many dangers of euthanasia are obscenely large. For instance, this option would open the door to countless abuses. Suddenly, doctors and family members would be able to make critical choices for patients, and while we hope that they would keep the patient’s best interest in the forefront, in reality many would not. We have the Terri Schiavo case as evidence as to the misuses euthanasia allows (Lynne). Physicians agree that this is a very real concern surrounding the legalization of euthanasia, according to a survey administered by C Seale Centre for Health Sciences, “The most common qualifying statement concerned the need for safeguards to prevent abuse, made by 45% (46%) of those in favour of assisted dying…Others in favour of assisted dying made comments about the need for nonmedical people to carry out euthanasia or assisted suicide or for individual doctors to have a right to opt out [27% (25% weighted)]” (Seale).The evidence shows that not only are the ill and aging alarmed at the prospect of legalized euthanasia, but so are the physicians. Similarly, this new choice belittles the value of a person, making the terminally ill ponder if their loved ones would be better off without them. It guilts many disabled and ill persons to die rather than burden their family members and society. As the president of Not Yet Dead, an organization that fights in defense of the disabled, Diane Coleman explains, “Bioethicists are now writing about health care economics and the idea that some of us, whose health care services will cut into insurance company profits, have a duty to die, voluntarily or not” (Coleman 133). The driving force behind euthanasia is to provide the suffering with choices. Yet if it were to be legalized, many would feel pressured into choosing an immediate death.

ESCAPE FOR THE DEPRESSED
 
Finally, those requesting physician-assisted suicide aren’t always the terminally ill; many are simply suffering from depression. According to palliative care nurses Vicky Robinson and Helen Scott, many of the patients requesting this option have not been evaluated by a psychiatrist, “They therefore concluded that, as many cases of depression are missed, it is possible that some depressed patients received lethal prescriptions and that patients without a mental disorder at the time of receiving the prescription may have become depressed by the time they ingested it” (Robinson and Scott). Anyone who is requesting the drastic measure of suicide should be examined by a mental health professional. Dr. Tal Bergman Levy explains that the mere request for assisted suicide should alert the doctor to deep mental anguish and is cause for a psychiatric evaluation, “Under such circumstances, it would be fitting for the psychiatrist to be skeptical of a patient’s desire to die rather than automatically accepting and cooperating with the patient’s request for assisted suicide” (Levy 406). Legalizing this would provide an out for the mentally ill and depressed, who given the proper treatment, are able to live full and long lives.
            
It is fair to desire a comfortable and dignified death for the suffering. Because of the advances modern medicine has taken, now a peaceful death is possible for the multitude. In his article Hospice Care Can Make Assisted Suicide Unnecessary, deputy editor Joe Loconte explains that “there is another way to die – under the care of a specialized discipline of medicine that manages the pain of deadly diseases, keeps patients comfortable yet awake and alert, and surrounds the dying with emotional and spiritual support” (Loconte 97).  According to Loconte, every year about 450,000 people die in the comfort of a hospice. This situation provides a dignified solution for the dying. Rather than being injected with a high dose of poison and dying painfully, the patient is surrounded by compassionate, certified caregivers and given the necessary medication to spend their final days comfortably and peacefully.


Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are harmful practices that endanger both doctors and patients. Although many politicians are pushing for its legalization, euthanasia contradicts the physician’s traditional role in society and endangers patients. It is horribly demeaning, as a value is shamelessly placed on human life. With the improvement of end-of-life care, any act to end the lives of the ill is unwarranted. Rather than promoting euthanasia, our nation’s focus should be on continual advancement of end-of-life treatment, providing those in difficult situations with optimal care and treating them with the dignity they deserve.
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All You are is Mean

All you are is mean
And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean
Taylor Swift. Her frank lyrics and strong spirit draws admiration from girls everywhere. And I admit, seeing her vintage dresses and elegant appearance did make me sigh in satisfaction. “Finally!” I thought to myself, “At last someone who isn’t afraid to be honest and innocent.” And although she cast aside her original squeaky clean, girl-next-door image you have to admit she’s very very honest. Maybe a little too much so. Is she a women we ought to regard as a role model?

I heard my first Taylor Swift song five years ago. I remember sitting in the back of a coffee house, listening with rapt attention as two girls beautifully sang the wildly romantic song “Love Story”. Actually, it was my parish activities center, but with a stage and lots of candles we transformed it into a passable coffee house. But back to Taylor Swift. I really liked her song. First of all, her voice is beautiful. Secondly, what thirteen year old girl wouldn’t go crazy over a Romeo and Juliet story with a happily ever after finish? Seriously, it’s every girl’s dream to have it happen to her. So when Taylor first came out, I was in her camp.

But then I rather forgot about her. Sure, I would hear an occasional song on the radio or see her picture across the tabloids. But for the most part I simply regarded her as a talented country singer. Until recently, that it.

My family and I were on a painstakingly long trip and checked out some CD’s from the library to help the monotonous drive along. One of the CD’s we chose was Speak Now. Obviously we were familiar with some of her more popular songs, but when listening as the music played, we realized she just sounded bitter. My sister (who loves music and is usually very forgiving) skipped one the songs declaring, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t listen to her anymore!” And I could see where she was coming from.

There’s no doubt about it. Taylor Swift is beautiful, feminine, refrains from crude language, radiates confidence. Most believe her to be a Christian. Seems like the complete package, right? Then why am I writing this post at all? Because of the underlying message in all her songs. No, I don’t think it’s okay to date just for the sake of it. Her songs are bitter and cruel. They destroy rather than build up. In one song she’s plotting revenge against that snobbish girl who steals the guy; in another song she becomes that girl when she stops the wedding by persuading the groom to run away with her. Ironic, isn’t it? She’s always the misunderstood heroine, and everyone against her is mean. At least, that’s the way her songs portray the story.

What are the lessons we learned from Taylor? You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. Don’t regard dad’s advice (remember the whole tattoo line in Ours). And it’s perfect alright to live with your man before marriage (Mine). Still think she’s the wholesome example for girls everywhere?

We really must take a step back and think before switching on the radio. Enough compromising. Enough excuses. No matter how endearing her songs are, maybe its time to shift our focus elsewhere. There are so many Godly women to emulate.

What woman inspires you to become the best version of yourself? What virtues make her shine? Study her. Discover what motivates her. “The aged women, in like manner, in holy attire, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teaching well: that they may teach the young women to be wise…” Titus 2:3 Take instruction from Godly women, rather than a lovesick youth.

Christmas Eve

First of all, I want to apologize for being MIA lately. Honestly, whenever I found the time to sit down and write, I was at a loss. But lately I feel compelled to write on a subject which is very relevant today. It is the subject of Christmas.

Last week I sat contently in my pew, watching as the rose colored candle was lit when a thought suddenly struck me. I was failing to celebrate Christmas. I can just hear the gasp of disbelief. Could it possibly be that I forgot to bake the cookies, trim the tree, or sing the carols? No, I did all of the usual merriment. What I failed to do was ready my soul for the Savior’s birth.

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Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning to arrive. It is a season of preparing our souls for Our Lord’s coming. Much like the season of Lent, we are to abstain and do penance to purify our souls. I know for myself, I often get so caught up in the “fa, la, la, la, la’s” and Christmas shopping that penance becomes an afterthought. Thus I had to stop and ask myself if Christ has become an afterthought too. One hears the slogans “Keep Christ in Christmas” but how often do we ponder the mystery and miracle of that day? Do we adore Our Lord with the humility of the wise men or the sincerity of the Shepard’s?

I believe Satan has spent centuries twisting our focus inward, especially this time of year. We become so consumed in trivial matters that we forget the big picture. We forget who and why we are celebrating. I realize that Advent in nearly over. After all it is Christmas Eve. Christmas is the day of Our Savior’s birth. So when you sit amidst the wrapping paper and presents remember our Savior and the mystery of that beautiful day.

Elysian

elysian
(adj.) beautiful or creative; divinely inspired; peaceful and perfect

I would like to announce the arrival of Elysian, periodical posts to present a quote or poem that inspires. There are so many authors, missionaries, and Saints who stated the obvious perfectly. I am very excited to share a collection of valuable statements.

Anyone who has read my writings know they are sprinkled with quotes. But there are times when a piece must be presented in its entirety. And thus we will have Elysian.

And so without further ado…

Dear God, I prayed, all unafraid
(as we’re inclined to do)
I do not need a handsome man
But let him be like You;
I do not need one big and strong
Nor yet so very tall,
Nor need he be some genius
Or wealthy, Lord, at all;
But let his head be high, dear God,
And let his eye be clear,
His shoulders straight, whate’er his state,
Whate’er his earthly sphere;
And let his face have character,
A ruggedness of soul,
And let his whole life show, dear God,
A singleness of goal;
Then when he comes (as he will come)
With quiet eyes aglow,
I’ll understand, that he’s the man
I prayed for long ago.
~Ruth Bell Graham

 

Is Gatsby so Great?

The Great Gatsby has lately become a household title. Everyone is talking of the newest version of the classic novel. The twenties was an era where America’s focal point became pleasure and self. Of course the mysterious book allowing us a glimpse into that extravagant past has been retold many times through the silver screen. We will first look at the book itself and the characters that gave life to the roaring twenties. And finally we’ll consider the movie.

From a purely literary perspective, the book is brilliant. The writing is very well done and flows wonderfully. The plot rolls along with perfect rhythm. The twists arrive at precisely the right moments. That being said, the plot is as mysterious as its protagonist. The story centers on the incredibly peculiar Jay Gatsby’s lavish lifestyle, eccentric parties, and forbidden romance. It offers everything in the way of entertainment but morally it leaves us hungry.

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Each prominent character has much according to the measures of the world. Wealth, youth, beauty, popularity, and talent are generously distributed to each character in turn. Every main character is at some point immorally attached to a significant other. The attempts at nobility in other areas are made minor by these impure actions. The acclaimed Gatsby himself pursues a married woman shamelessly. Selfishness governs Gatsby to the very last breath.

Despite the immoral conduct of the Gatsby, I believe he was searching. Searching vainly for value in his life. He did everything exciting and adventurous. There was nothing left. And he acutely felt the void in his heart. He tried to fill it with Daisy. What he lacked was purpose.

It is true that the author severely punished the offending characters. I wonder if Fitzgerald’s purpose in writing this story was to reveal what the twenties truly offered, disappointed dreams and hollow promises. It very well may have been written as a reflection his own sorrowful life. Whatever the case, the story cautions us to beware of the allure of the sin that ruins all: the sin of pride.

I can not acclaim for the sliver screen’s  newest version of the novel. I have not watched the movie; the trailer was quite enough. Reading the reviews confirmed my suspicions. They have played up the glory of sin. Hollywood does not fail at turning the rogue into the hero and his faults into victories. They do not even allows us the music of the twenties. Instead they add modern music to keep the attention of the audience. It supposedly lost the essence of  F Scott Fitzgerald’s world. It failed at presenting the clip of time through the author’s eyes. Consequently, I will miss the latest retelling of The Great Gatsby.

The novel I believe can be read and examined safely enough. Whatever the intent of the author in putting this tale to paper, the moral of the danger and destruction of selfishness screams to be noted. The similarities between that pleasure-seeking era and our own time is startling. We must learn from the mistakes of the past lest we also reap the consequences.

 

Welcome

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Emily, a young lady with a small quiet exterior but a mind always humming with thoughts and ideas. I am the eldest in my homeschooling family, and there isn’t anyone dearer to me than my siblings. They even have me filming short films with them during spare time. I love words, laughter, tea, books, dreaming, true friendship, reading, singing in the rain, baking, flowers, writing, old movies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and fine music, just to name a few. When I am not busy with schooling, books, and siblings you can find me writing my novel.

 
Welcome to my blog. I am very excited to start this undertaking. I have been very blessed from years of research, reading, and learning to acquire a great deal of unique knowledge. This knowledge covers many subjects from Sacred Scripture and theology to books and recipes. It would be my privilege to share this with you.

Here I will post of femininity, recipes, quotes, musings, books, faith, reviews, and whatever else my funny little mind can come up with. So pull up a chair and stay awhile. The tea is on, cookies are baking, and the strawberries are fresh.

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