What happens when an abortion survivor finds her birth mother… …who never knew her daughter was alive?
Melissa Ohden is fourteen when she learns she is the survivor of a botched abortion. In this intimate memoir she details for the first time her search for her biological parents, and her own journey from anger and shame to faith and forgiveness.
I am frequently presented with opportunities to review books and movies here on the blog. There are very few of those opportunities to which I say ‘yes’. If I choose to present a product to you, my faithful readers, I want it to be something that will enrich your life and bless your heart. When the opportunity to review Melissa Ohden’s book, You Carried Me, was placed before me, I knew immediately that I wanted to share with you.
Ohden does a masterful job of sharing a story that is full of heartache, despair, joy, and healing in a calm and thorough way. Her life after learning that she is the survivor of a saline abortion includes teenage bouts with alcohol, pre-marital sex, and bulimia. Over the course of several years and with the blessing of her adoptive parents, she searches for her birth parents, gleaning little bits of information about them from time to time. The book includes an account of her first meeting with her birth mother 38 years after the attempted abortion. Ohden details the journey of healing through which God led her from anger and shame to faith and forgiveness. As a social worker, she has been able to help others who have experienced severe emotional trauma related to abortion, child abuse, and other issues that plaque our society.
Melissa’s very existence as a survivor of a botched abortion impacted so many people and this book is one family’s story that highlights the complexity of the issue. It will leave readers with more compassion for every woman impacted by abortion. This compelling human interest story, and the sensitivity with which Ohden personalizes issues such as adoption and women’s rights, will appeal to readers of all stripes.
Kirkus Reviews said the following about You Carried Me:
“A memoir of mothers, daughters, adoption, and abortion. . . . Ohden’s story is complicated, and she has impressively overcome significant emotional challenges. . . . [Her] perseverance is inspiring.”
I encourage you to learn more about Melissa’s book. Here are some ways you can do that:
You Carried Me Page
Melissa’s publisher is giving away 5 copies of the book. You may enter to win by CLICKING THIS LINK.
Want a copy for yourself? Here is the link to Amazon for You Carried Me.
I know I said that I was on a blogging sabbatical. However, my time away has been so blessed and has truly given me a renewed energy and desire for writing and ministry that I just feel the need to be here today. So, while I am not officially back to blogging, I am feeling led to offer just a few posts in this holy month of December.
One of the things that I have done while on sabbatical is to ponder and pray through my goals for 2017. Now, I will tell you that I have never been one to sit down at the end of the year and write down my goals for the upcoming year. To be honest, the past couple of years have had me in pure survival mode, and the only goals I had were simply getting through each day, week, and month. Again, being completely honest with you here, for the better part of 2016 I have not even been sure that I would continue to write or serve in any kind of ministry capacity. I was completely spent…poured out…weary. Through it all, God was trying to tell me something that I was refusing to listen to. REST! My OneWord 2016 that I ran from and resisted mightily. Turns out God knew best. I know, LIGHT BULB MOMENT!
So, back to my 2017 goals. I spent some time listing them and the exercise was a good one. It helped put into perspective what I believe the Lord is calling me to in the coming year. My goals represent many areas of my life…..ministry, marriage, social, work, and personal enjoyment. Large goals like planning and hosting a women’s prayer and listening retreat, as well as smaller goals like reading (at least) one book per month made my list.
One of the tools that I am using to set goals for 2017 is Grace Goals, by my friend, Arabah Joy. There are many tools out there, but Grace Goals is my favorite because it helps me set goals from a Christian perspective….with Jesus at the center of my life.
Because you are my friend, I want to share Grace Goals with you. I want you to be successful in 2017….in life, marriage, work, parenting, and so much more. I believe it is the tool you need to help you set God’s goals for your life.
Arabah Joy has compiled a PDF containing 5 mini-workshops that will take you through the process of:
Setting practical, godly goals
Developing a doable, personal plan for change
Learning why grace is the enablement you need
Recognizing and appropriating grace in your daily life
Arabah Joy is making Grace Goals 2017 available NOW for only $15. What’s not to like about that?
- Get Grace Goals 2017
- Begin setting godly goals
I would love for you to purchase Grace Goals because I believe it can help you in your goal setting for 2017 and beyond. It would be a blessing to me if you purchased through the links on this post because I am an affiliate for Arabah Joy’s product sales. What does that mean? It means that for every purchase that is made using my links, I will earn a small commission. This is one way I support a product that I believe in, and support my ministry financially.
Regardless of whether you purchase the product or not, can I hear from you about your goals for 2017? Share one (or more) of your 2017 goals in the comments section. Let’s support and encourage one another in our goal setting endeavors.
I love mentoring.
I love one-on-one discipleship.
I love being trained and taught and equipped formally. And, I love being the one doing the training and equipping.
However, there are seasons when life just feels really busy, too busy to take the time to mentor someone else.
So, how do we “do” discipleship as busy women and men?
- What does it look like for that person who cannot take part in regular discipleship meetings?
- Can you still make disciples on the run and in the middle of the chaos of life?
- Can you still invest in the lives of others when your life is crazy and unpredictable?
I want to give you four (4) words you can use that come from the life of Jesus.
These 4 words will give you the HEART of your discipleship plan – the heart of your way to investing in the lives of others.
“As they were going along the road,” someone said to Him (Jesus), “I will follow You wherever You go.”
And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
“Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi;” and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?”
They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
Luke 24:13-24 The Road to Emmaus
“That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.”
Our Challenge – “AS YOU ARE GOING” – we can invest in the lives of others and make disciples.
In the regular course and days of your life, you can train, teach, and instruct others to love Jesus.
How do you do this??
My favorite way to mentor and disciple is to use regular, everyday moments.
Jesus was the ultimate example of this technique. As they were walking outside and a flock of birds flew by, He would say, “Look at the birds of the air.”
He used things like the fig tree, the mountains, the wheat and the tares, and the lost coin. Jesus taught, trained, and mentored others using regular, everyday stuff.
What does it look like to use “Regular, Every Day Moments” and to share the love of Christ as you are going?
While walking with one of my neighbors, we had the chance to talk about our faiths. She was raised Muslim, and I asked her to tell me about her core beliefs. Then, she invited me to tell her about my faith.
This neighbor was never able to grasp the concept of “GRACE,” but she was quite intrigued by it.
I had the opportunity to invest in this young mom’s life while we made laps around the neighborhood.
Where do they usually happen??
Moments to mentor, train, and equip other women can happen anywhere!
- At Work – you might have a great opportunity to share with a co-worker.
- At Home – with your kids.
- In your Neighborhood – while watering the yard or walking the dog.
- At Church – I’ve had many great conversations in the hallway or even in the women’s restroom.
- At Exercise class – you can talk to a younger woman while walking on the treadmill next to hers.
- At the Airport.
- Even at Wal-Mart.
When do they usually happen??
Any time of day or night, moments to influence and impact can occur. Honestly, they usually happen at the most unusual times and in the most unusual ways.
For example, we’ve had some of the best discussions about life and important matters with our kids in the car. We’ve answered questions like: What about alcohol? What about tattoos? What about…?
How long do they last??
They can last several minutes…
I’ve had the chance to offer a good word or a little instruction to many women through email or on Facebook Messenger. Often, they send me a note asking what to do about their marriage, one of their children, or some other issue. For just a moment, I have the chance to pour into their lives.
Or, they can last several years…
For about two years, I walked in the morning with my precious younger friend Kelly. We just talked, laughed, and shared about our lives.
Eventually, Kelly and I both moved away from that neighborhood. But, I got to see her at an event recently.
She stopped me and told me, “I was a baby Christian when we met. You were the one who really mentored me and taught me how to grow in the Lord.” Now, she is on staff at a church!
I never knew. I just thought we were walking and talking.
How do you know what to say??
To effectively impact the men or women God has placed in your life, can I suggest a few steps of daily preparation?
1} Get Clean –
Empty yourself. Confess, forsake, give up, let go of your sin.
Daily get your heart right with the Lord.
1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
2} Get your tank filled –
Fill up on Jesus – ask Him to fill you up so you have something to pour out.
Like the woman at the well, I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking—
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”
Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
(Fill My Cup, Lord, Hymn)
Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
3} Get in the Word –
Fill up on the Word. Open the Word and take in truth for the day.
2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
4} Get out there!
Be ready and willing. Be open and available. Be on the lookout.
Hang your shingle – put it out for business!
Let the sign of your life read – “The light is on. This Christian is Spirit-filled. I’m open to talking to you today!”
Does this kind of discipleship work??
It’s been my joy to “do life” alongside many amazing friends. I’ve had the chance to invest in, pray with, teach, train, and befriend these women. Honestly, it’s been one of the greatest privileges in my life.
I have a number of favorites! Among them are three young friends who are all named “Jennifer.”
They are all ministry wives that God has sent into my life. Each is married to a pastor or a missionary husband, and each of these women deeply loves Jesus, their children, their husbands, and serving the Lord.
I’ve walked alongside each of these young women. I’ve spent time with them, I’ve prayed for them, I’ve given them great books to read, I’ve laughed with them, and I’ve cried with them.
Primarily, I’ve just loved them, and God has taken care of everything else.
And, He will do the same for you!
My CHALLENGE TO YOU is simple:
- GET CLEAN.
- GET FILLED UP WITH JESUS.
- GET INTO THE WORD.
- GET OUT THERE AND BE READY!
Ask God to use you as you are going, as you are walking along.
He can and He will.
But, be warned… if you do this, you better put your seatbelt on.
It’s going to be a wild ride!
I have so enjoyed this journey into the heart of mentoring. Sharing Life has been all about, well, sharing our lives with others…the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, and the ugly. My friends and I have offered posts that we hope have spoken into your heart in beautiful, blessed ways. Here is a sampling of some of the posts:
What Will Your Tombstone Say?
Someone Needs YOU To Be Their People
Sharing a Recipe
When Faith Feels More Frustration Than Song – Kimberly Henderson
I have a few more posts scheduled in December. I would love to hear how these Sharing Life posts have impacted you. Would you like to see this series continued in 2017?
Today at Sharing Life I welcome a new friend, Nancy Lindgren. She is a friend of a friend, and she came highly recommended to offer a post on mentoring to us.
Nancy is a mentor to moms, coach to mentors, and a consultant to ministry leaders. She has been married to her husband, Mark, for 29 years and has 4 grown children who she counts as her best friends.
I remember the first time a young mom asked me to be her mentor. The word “mentor” alone freaked me out! It sounded so formal—like I had to have all the answers and have my life put together, as well as be an advisor, teacher, counselor, and Bible scholar. Well, she and I quickly realized that’s not what she was looking for and that’s not who I was. We just started meeting together. I loved her, listened to her, and encouraged her. Then we prayed together over all the things that were heavy on her heart for that day. We watched God answer prayer after prayer in the most creative and miraculous ways. Together, we grew in awe of our great God.
What I loved about this style of mentoring is that it took all the pressure off of me as the mentor! I actually didn’t have to have all the answers. I didn’t have to portray perfection. Whew! I was just real with her and she was real with me and we talked with a very real God about every little thing that concerned us and He provided amazing answers that we could have never figured out on our own.
We experienced Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
I didn’t just tell my mentee I would pray for her. We actually prayed. We prayed while we walked. We prayed at the coffee shop. We prayed amidst kids climbing all over us. We agreed together and believed together that God was able to change hearts and situations and we watched Him do it.
We both grew in our love for God and our trust in Him. The greatest benefit in our prayer times together was the freedom from worry, anxiety, fear and doubt. It was like they were lifted off of us as we began to pray together. What a gift!
Here’s how my mentee describes it in her own words: “Being mentored by Nancy truly changed my life! Nancy was so loving, encouraging, and the best listener. I felt like I could share intimate things because I was not judged by her and I trusted her. She always pointed me to God’s Word. I never left my time with her without us praying together. Nancy truly taught me how to PRAY! And that is what changes everything!!! She would pray so beautifully, specifically, and expectantly and then be so patient and encourage me to pray. I learned about the power of praying in agreement together! I loved getting to know Nancy more as she would also share with me how I could pray for her. We would pray each week specifically over our marriages, our children, and many other details/decisions of our lives. There is nothing more bonding than to pray together and rejoice together when God so faithfully answers.”
I have a huge heart for moms with young children because I remember how hard those years were. We had four kids in six years so most of those years were spent in survivalhood mode. I loved being a mom but I was also exhausted. I was sleep- deprived, time-by-myself deprived and time-with-God-deprived. I believe if I would have had a mentor during that season, it would have made all the difference.
I also have a have a huge place in my heart for seasoned moms. I know so many women who would make amazing mentors, yet they don’t see themselves as one. They are fearful of not knowing what to say or not knowing enough or being enough. I get it. I felt the same way.
I would love to look you straight in the eyes and remind you that you have everything you need to be an amazing mentor. Just be You. Be Real. Just love, listen, encourage and pray and watch God do the rest. You will be so blessed and so blown away by how God can use your availability to change lives.
If you feel like you would either love to have a mentor or become a mentor and don’t know where to start, I have just the resource for you called MORE Mentoring – A 12-Session Jumpstart Guide for Mentors and Mentees. I would love to share it with you! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send it to you as an e-book. My desire is to see more mentoring happen all over the world!
It makes my heart glad to welcome friends to my blog. Today’s friend is one that I am particularly excited to introduce to you. While DeAnna Morris and I have never met in real life, I feel like we are already great friends. She is a beautiful encourager to me and I know she will be a blessing to you as she offers a bit of her heart here for today’s Sharing Life post. I just loved reading her post about her grandmother because I had a spunky grandmother who never ceased to bless me.
DeAnna Morris has been married to Mike for 27 years and together they serve their community at Oak Pointe Church in Pelzer, SC where Mike is the pastor. DeAnna is a worship leader and seeks to encourage others to know, live and share God’s word. She enjoys great coffee while listening to the early morning birds from her patio and the sound of the waves on the shore.
DeAnna is the author of a recently released book entitled Simply Life: Live in Faith Every Day.
Visit with DeAnna at DeAnna Morris/Simply Life
My sweet Grandmother has mentored me in ways I have only just begun to realize now that I am older and she is declining in health. Notice the hummingbird pin she had just given me… she loves hummingbirds
and she loves me, too!
Every one of us is on a journey, and we are either farther along the Faith Walk than someone else, or someone in our life is farther along than we are.
Just as Jesus went about His Father’s business in a non-hurried, lifestyle, come as you are approach, I believe mentoring should be the same.
I am very thankful for women in my life who have mentored me along the way. These women did so without frills, checklists, or a “how to” booklet. They simply have been leaders in my life by their own example of Faith Walking.
My grandmother was a woman who mentored in her own way. She let me “help” her in the kitchen when baking cakes and cookies, she let me set the Sunday Lunch table with her fine china and silverware. She spanked me if I needed it and wasn’t afraid to tell on me if I had misbehaved in any way. She made me clothes and afghans with her skilled fingers. I didn’t realize how much I took for granted when I was a small child and young woman with the gift of my grandmother.
She was spunky, feisty at times and sometimes ornery…(speaking the truth in love here…) But she loved as best she could from the resources of love she had within her. If I could go back in time, I would speak more words of appreciation to her for her love for me and others.
Flawed that she was (who isn’t?)… she did the best she could to be loving and kind and to serve others.
This inspires me to invest in the lives of others around me. Women who are younger and just beginning to walk in faith, women who are young mothers frazzled with the endlessness of laundry and little people, women who are struggling with depression, hurt, anxiety and overwhelmed by life, I want to invest in women around me. I have been blessed by women who have quietly mentored me along the way and I pray to be a blessing to others.
Who inspires you? Do you know someone who has quietly mentored you along your journey?
We would love to hear who inspires you….who has mentored you. Share with us in the comments.
Sometimes a story reaches into the heart and causes you to giggle, while others bring tears. Today, at Sharing Life, my friend, Tammy Rude offers one of those stories that bring tears. You will just want to go ahead and reach for a Kleenex, friend. Her’s is a beautiful story of life and death, faith and family.
Before I introduce you to Tammy, may I remind you what Sharing Life is all about?
Sharing Life is an idea the Lord gave me to come alongside women and speak into their lives. Sharing Life is about mentoring and encouraging women to lean into Jesus as they do life. Here are a few links to past posts that will allow you to see what Fridays are all about here at LeahAdams.org.
What Will Your Tombstone Say?
Someone Needs YOU To Be Their People
Sharing a Recipe
When Faith Feels More Frustration Than Song – Kimberly Henderson
Okay, on to today’s Sharing Life post by my friend, Tammy.
Tammy Rude is a wife, mother, and women’s leader who is living a restored, Christ-centered life. Tammy speak and writes with transparency using lessons learned through her struggles with marriage, motherhood, depression, and ultimately through her victory by God’s redeeming power. She enthusiastically present practical Bible-centered solutions to the problems every woman and family face. Her tender, yet firm, style challenges listeners and readers to lay down excuses and confront personal obstacles in the power available to them through Jesus Christ.
Please visit Tammy at TammyRude.com
and on Facebook at Tammy Rude Speaker Dramatic Monologues
Her time with God was important and left no wiggle room for compromise. Reading her Bible and having her daily conversation with Him was at the top of her list. God was her joy, even through the trials and tribulations.
The morning started out pretty normal. I had gotten up to get my daughter off to school only to find out she was not feeling well. I thought…not today. Today was my day to visit Mom. I enjoyed those days, but I needed to let her know I wouldn’t be coming up to visit her. My heart became a little unsettled when the phone just kept ringing, so I decided to hang up and try again a little later, maybe she was still in bed.
It was about a half hour later when I tried again and this time she answered. Her voice sounded a little strange as if her mouth was full of marbles. I asked her if she was alright and she replied “No.” So with a little hesitation, I said “Mom, what is wrong?” She then proceeded to tell me that she was making a cup of tea and her sleeve to her bathrobe had caught on fire. I asked her if she had called 911, again in a wobbly voice replied “No”, but told me the neighbor lady, Doris, was on her way over. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest as I told her I would be right up.
I quickly got ready and grabbed Sydney to drive up to the house. I remember as I was driving asking God to give me strength. The thoughts racing through my mind were terrifying. Was this the day Mom was going home to be with the Lord? What was I going to do? I had lost Dad 2 years previously and now Mom… I wasn’t ready. I remembered asking God if she was going to be all-right and he whispered “She’s coming home.”
Even though the ride was 20 minutes away, it seem like hours. As I pulled in the driveway I tried to get Sydney to come in with me but she wouldn’t. I have to say it was the first time I was glad she said “No.” I had no idea what was waiting for me inside. Quickly I walked towards the house, asking God to help me and to clear my mind. When I opened the door, smoke brushed against my face and caused my eyes to tear up. The kitchen was full of smoke. Stepping into the kitchen I saw Doris and Laura, Mom’s other friend, standing next to the sink and the look on their faces said it all.
“Doris, is she alright?” I asked. Shaking her head slowly from side to side, as she choked on her words “Your mom is laying on the couch and it isn’t good.” Walking toward the living room, I looked down and there on the kitchen floor I saw the melted imprint of her slipper…my heart sank. There just a few feet ahead of me, Mom was laying on the couch with a white sheet covering her body.
She didn’t look like mom except for that sweet smile of hers. I tried hard to hold back the tears. I knelt down beside her, asking her if she was in a lot of pain. She looked into my eyes and whispered softly “Oh no honey, I am fine.”
She was taken to the hospital where she died at 4:15 in the afternoon. (Ninety percent of her body was covered with 3 degree burns degree.)
Evening had fallen and I still couldn’t believed what had happened. I went to bed asking God “Why?”. I remember waking up at around 4:00 the next morning with a heaviness in my heart, so I went downstairs and knelt beside my couch. I began crying out to the only One who had all the answers. I knew He was listening. I knew He felt my pain. I knew He was in control of everything. Yet, my one question was “Why would you let this happen to someone who was so faithful, who never worried about anything because she trusted You?” I couldn’t stop crying. I wanted answers but I heard nothing. I cried out again “Why, God, why?”
A few days passed and I still had no answers. Like the persistent widow, I continued asking God …”Why?” There on my knees, as my heart was breaking, I began to feel God’s presence. It was like He had leaned over, placing His hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear…”Not even the devil could steal her joy.”
I have found strength, peace and joy in those words that the LORD spoke to me that day. I want to be a woman just like my Mom, who completely trusted God, even to the very end. She knew her joy came when her eyes were fixed on Jesus.
Later, the doctor told me the ETMs said she didn’t go into shock until she was placed in the helicopter. I believe God wanted me to know He was with her during her tragic ordeal.
Dear friend, is something trying to steal your joy? Are their joy-killers in your life?
If you know Jesus, you also know joy…even in the middle of tragedy and trial. Ask Him to fill your heart with joy and help you trust Him in the pain of whatever seeks to steal your joy.
How may we pray for you today? Leave us a comment and know your need will be lifted to the Father in heaven.