Dear Dad,

Hey Dad?

I know you don’t think you being here matters much. I know you think you don’t have much to offer in the way of raising kids, but I don’t think that way.

I see you go to work every day, even at night sometimes, I see you tired and worn out on the couch. I know you’re sore after working all day, and you still get down on the ground to wrestle with us. I really love those days.

I never get to see the money you work so hard for, but I see our fridge that’s full and my lunchbox filled with all my favorites. My bed is warm and my new clothes make me feel like the coolest kid on the block.

Mom says to thank you for all that you do, and sometimes I forget to remember that our home is safe because you make it feel that way.

I think it must be easy for some dads to walk out the door and not look back. I know I fuss and fight and drive you crazy when me and my sister aren’t very kind to each other (or you.) But I’m really just learning how to be a grown up and stand on these two feet of my own. I’m sorry for that temper tantrum, Dad. I’m working on it.

When I see you come home and hug my mom every day, I see the love in your face. I don’t always like to share her ,but I guess that’s the way God made it to be. I hope somebody treats me that way when I grow up. I hope somebody dances in my kitchen with me like that too. It makes my heart happy. Thanks for showing me what true love looks like…even when you and mom kissing grosses me out.

When I see you leave early on Sunday to serve in the community, I wonder why you wouldn’t rather just sleep in? I think it’s because you said “it’s the right thing to do,” and I hope someday I can do the right thing too even when it’s the hard thing.

Dad? It can’t be easy to give up all the fun things you liked before just so you can take me to ballet class, but I love my new tutu more than anything, and can’t wait to show you my dance at recital. I hope I make you proud.

I know it can’t be easy to be a dad. Mom says you carry the world on your shoulders for us, but I want you to know that I think you have the strongest shoulders in the whole world, Dad. And sometimes they’re my favorite place to sit and see the world.

Thank you for being the Dad you didn’t have to be.

To Mom:

Dear Mom,
Take a second. Look around. Listen.

I hear the kids fighting in the next room. I see the laundry over there in half, color- coded piles…endless. I see the dishes mounting and the growling tummies and the daily packed lunches. Balanced some days and not-so-much the next.

I see the work load rolling over on your desk and the relentless files in your mind repeating your schedule and your agenda that just. won’t. let. up.

I see your checkbook and the bills piling, stacking themselves over-there on the counter.

Mom? I know you feel like you’re failing, I know it feels like every day you are surely ruining these little humans who just take and take and want and crave. I know you don’t think you’re making any difference in this home, in their lives. I know that you question your efforts and exhaustion every, single day.

But Mom? I’m here to remind you that You are doing AMAZING.
That raising tiny people in this 21st century, global pandemic with the world around us on the verge of civil unrest is {by far} the hardest job on this planet. And you? Are crushing it.

Those fights between siblings are the first opportunity our kids have to solve and resolve their real world issues.

The dirty laundry means their sweet selves are covered and clothed, not just with warm cloth, but cloaked by your precious love.

Did you know those dirty dishes mean their bellies are fed and their bones are growing?

Those bills are just a reminder of the world you are working so hard to provide for them and prepare for them. They don’t define you. Money doesn’t give you or your babies worth.

That work load is the way you show your service to your family and the world. Your priorities are right on track. Use that agenda. Own it.

Those little ones who cry out in the night are just so very happy to see that groggy face walk through their door in the midst of their dark night. You represent their Safety. Their Security.

So Mom? Don’t let the world around you depict what your home isn’t. Don’t look at all the pretty pictures of the big homes and the clean kitchens and the empty laundry baskets and think those people aren’t hiding their own messes behind the scenes. Don’t worry about the world they are growing up in, but rather, continue to prepare them well for the days that we live in now. Their timely arrival in this era was not caused by chance, after all they were born “For such a time as this.” Take care of the heart and home that you have. Hold those children and give them love the best way you know how…and the rest will fall right into its natural place. A wise woman once said:

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Theresa

New Year. New Perspective.

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New Year, New…Perspective?

When I think back to one year ago, I reminisce about a world that feels so foreign and beyond what our expectations of the last ten months could have brought us.

We were naive to the complications of a world that would be shaken in tumult simply from the unseen exposure to an unknown virus.

We were unresolved in our political climate as what felt like a cold draft hovered over much of the world. It parted ways to a heated and explosive culture barreling down on our nation.

We had intended to wander from month-to-month with our calendars filled in the anticipation of what was going to be the year of “perfect vision.” 20/20.

O. How blurred of a world it has become. 

My year was just beginning. My life as a single-mom was coming to a halt as I eagerly accepted a marriage proposal from my very best friend and love of my life. 2020 was surely going to be my year. This was going to be it.

Only one month later, the world seemed to come to a screeching halt. We closed our blinds and covered our faces. We wore gloves in public and hid behind our televisions and computer screens, waiting for the next round of instruction to tell us just how bad it really was out there. We called friends and family with bleak encouragement as we cowered behind our own weary hearts. We forsook the gathering of ourselves…in every attempt to be safe.

It’s been nearly one-year since the pandemic officially began in the greatest country on earth. An anniversary that I feel like celebrating simply as a term of survival. I recall where I was as I realized the world would never be the same again. I watched as the streets around me cleared early. I recall the radio transmitting the governors orders to head home and stay there. I remember “just two weeks” echoing in my brain. Followed shortly thereafter by the phrase: “This can’t really be happening?”

Sometimes my memory fades. I wonder if it’s age, genetics, mom-brain, or just the chaos of the previous year taking it’s toll on my physicality; but when I consider it all, I stop to ask myself: “If I could go back to March..what would I say to that girl?”

Would I change my bad attitude when I heard school was canceled for 2-3 weeks? 

Would I pout and wonder how they could possibly force us into evening curfews? 

Could I handle not seeing my parents again for several months? Not letting my children hug them? 

Would I let the chaos of this temporary world control my eternal choices? 

Would I hand over my constitutional freedoms for sake of safety…again?

What words might I offer to my younger-self on the other-side of this runaway train? 

It’s a New Year now. So let’s all be honest, we’re a little bit bitter. We’re a little bit salty and hardened at the insanity that the year of “hindsight” should have been. Confusion and chaos are served up in our faces daily, yet here we are. With a choice to make. Naivety no more.

In reflection? I couldn’t control the year of Covid. I will not reminisce gladly on the hardships that were brought on by a vicious virus. But what might I change if given the chance? 

Perspective. 

My year (and yours) did not participate as planned. But in new perspective…do they really…ever? No one ever welcomes midnight on New Year’s eve with the concern of hardship on their mind. But Hope perhaps? 

My wedding was not held at the beautiful venue as planned: but we were still promised to each other in matrimony for eternity, forever and ever amen. And it was perfect. 

My children never did return to their previous schools: but they were able to be held under the safe care of their mother whose employment allowed me to work from the safety-net of home. 

My family is healthy. The family food business has flourished, and the world is returning slowly to its (completely natural) state of disarray. 

It’s a New year. Bottom line? You can choose to be a new version of you, a healthier, happier, well-rounded and perhaps physically-fit person, but in all of  that…don’t forget to take on a new perspective. We never know what lies around the corner of life…

But as a very wise man once said?  “Keep looking up, that’s the secret of life.” {Charlie Brown}

Are you in need of pregnancy help? Have you been caught unexpectedly by a positive test? Have you experienced an abortion and need to chat with someone about your feelings? We are here to help! We are a fully-staffed, free clinic located HERE in Youngstown, Ohio. Conveniently situated near St. Elizabeth’s Hospitals main and Boardman, Ohio campuses. You can reach us HERE to schedule an appointment online. Let us know how we can serve you today! #KnowYourOptions

Yet Hope Remains

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There are days. 

There are days when it feels like the rain just won’t stop. Like the wind is blowing and the leaves are howling, like the sound of the cold droplets keep beating on my old pane glass windows. It’s cold. It’s damp. I don’t like the outside right now.

There are days when I have to cancel future plans because the world outside is telling me it’s not ok. The days where everything was normal seem like a distant past that my children will only ever hear about.  Today, I cried a little when I realized my littlest child probably won’t remember much of the world before we had to follow orders and protect ourselves from unseen germs. My heart aches.

The stores are lined with masking tape of different colors. “Stand here. Stay there. Distance yourselves.” The signs hanging on shelves and windows and boxes preach at me. My neighbor passed me in the cereal aisle; she didn’t know it was me.

Family business is on the verge of bankruptcy. The news people tell them they might have to shut their doors again if they don’t control this thing. This living, breathing silent giant that feels like it’s living on my doorstep.

Yet Hope remains.

In the quiet moments of our little home, nestled in the midst of woods, I see the deer wander peacefully by. They’re un-phased by the altered world around them. No fear of a virus day-or- night. I listen as the ducks land quietly on the pond. They rest. They float in patterns with nothing more than a moment’s thought. The trees toss in the wind as they did last year at this time. Though they seem to be sorrowful, waving their sadness with their limbs in weeping motion. 

Yet Hope remains.

Every day brings different news. Pre-holidays, post-election, mid-pandemic…it’s as if we all hold our breathe until the next change finds us (or the other shoe drops.) The seasons have now shifted from fall to winter. The leaves have fallen in line with their natural order, and somehow the impending holidays keep us on the verge of our human order. What will they look like this year? Already filled with so much uncertainty.

Yet Hope remains.

I only voice what many feel. Often I feel numb to the rhythm of change that has become our routine. One thing is certain, though  ‘the grass withers and the flowers fade…”, I know that my faith lies in a hope much bigger than myself. Though the walls around me crumble…the world outside my cozy room feels confused and constricted. I am hopefully for the harvest. We must remain with the greatest of commands and choose them daily for peace and sanity in these tumultuous times. “These three remain, Faith, Hope, and Love…” May we echo these traits in our changing seasons and hold strong to unwavering Hope. For I believe, my Friends… The Best is Yet to Come.

Are you in need of pregnancy help? Have you been caught unexpectedly by a positive test? Have you experienced an abortion and need to chat with someone about your feelings? We are here to help! We are a fully-staffed, free clinic located HERE in Youngstown, Ohio. Conveniently situated near St. Elizabeth’s Hospitals main and Boardman, Ohio campuses. You can reach us HERE to schedule an appointment online. Let us know how we can serve you today! #KnowYourOptions 

The Truth About Fall

Autumn. The miraculous time of year where woman thrive in their warm, blanket-like ponchos and trendy duck boots. Coffee flavors explode into all-things pumpkin and outdoor festivities seem prominent around every turn. Children prepare their costumes for October’s end and inevitably, before we can stand it, Christmas tunes will be in every store and scene.

Can you sense my cynicism? I mean, what kind of season calls itself for what it is….Fall. The leaves fall, the temperatures fall, the rain…falls. And with it…my cheerful persona quite obviously falls right along with it.

What is it about this season the everyone loves so much? What about the colder temperatures and the flavored coffee is so captivating? Perhaps my friends can share their thoughts with me? Anyone?

Autumn has long felt like the season of goodbye’s for me. Someone said it best when they said: “A fallen leaf is nothing more than a summer wave’s goodbye.” I couldn’t agree more. Summer saying goodbye.

I can’t help but dig deep into my own records, my own thoughts and opinions and wonder what causes this unsettling of the changing season. It could be that my adult memoirs are not filled with particularly beautiful memories of this time frame. That perhaps some of my alternately, unhappiest-of-moments are hidden deep within the fall and winter calendar.  The chill in the air doesn’t provide a comfort or console that my personality, for-so-very-long, desired.

So what do I do? I live here; I work and thrive here…and we have seasons. All of them. Even Fall. After what feels like a short eternity of rain (in reality only onesolidweek) my heart longs for the sun. I crave the warmth and the rays of a golden touch. My children are cooped inside with runny noses from cold mornings and the tea kettle is the most employed person in my home.

But alas, in my grumbling and complaining (which I promise) I am devoted to stopping…perhaps I can find peace with the changing seasons I am planted within.  After all, it is most important to recognize that my feelings are not the object of my authority. I’m reminded: “To every thing there is a season..and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

For Fall…What is the purpose? Perhaps I can ponder the color in every tree. The branches they die, they tumble down but not before the miracle that happens within as the colors morph. It is unlike any art mere humanity could create. 

For rain..perhaps the mud soaked ground is preparing the soil for a spring-ahead full of abundant planting and growth. It speaks of the harvest that we celebrate this season as we gather the food the ground has given and assemble our family and friends in communion for Thanksgiving.

The brisk air open my airways and reminds me of the breath granting life to my lungs. Each day is a gift. I am reminded.

And so with my open-hands instead of cold fists, I will welcome the changing season. My attitude can fall away right along with the leaves and just maybe I can learn to enjoy each passing moment.(More coffee, please!) Just as we wave with the leaves a sorrowful goodbye to the past, perhaps now is the time to wave hello to the coming season. And just like that?..The seasons change. 

Are you in need of pregnancy help? Have you been caught unexpectedly by a positive test? Have you experienced an abortion and need to chat with someone about your feelings? We are here to help! We are a fully-staffed, free clinic located HERE in Youngstown, Ohio. Conveniently situated near St. Elizabeth’s Hospitals main and Boardman, Ohio campuses. You can reach us HERE to schedule an appointment online. Let us know how we can serve you today! #KnowYourOptions 

Create

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The world around me seems to be crawling back to life. The once quiet neighborhood streets are bustling again with morning commuters. School busses line the roads as the children begin their fall education yet again. Even the air outside seems to blow in the wind with the feeling of new, and crisp life.

I can’t help but ask myself….In our quiet months at home, hidden from the outside world, did we miss the essence of life? Did we enjoy the introverted season of staying apart and seeking out silence a little too much? I did not. Life is best lived with fulfillment in my mind. Carpe diem! Let’s get this show on the road! I thrive on face-to-face interactions and the hustle and bustle of daily routines.

In the chaos that was the season I unaffectionately call “Corona” it became so easy to become detached from the outside world.

We watched the news and scrolled -through- feeds that told us what we thought was in our “best-interest” but when I step back, when I really look around at what was deemed “best”…the thing that was missing was always just around the corner.

Have we become too complacent? Have we gotten used to thinking only of ourselves, of our own families, and given ourselves the permission to not serve others because…Covid? Because…fear? (When did fear overtake family? When did it become ok for fear to override friendship?)

I must ask myself, what am I doing outside of “me.” Where have I drawn the line between what is best for my family and what is selfishly absorbing my time, my thoughts, my energy. What habits have been created that I must break? Have we created (even more) narcissism as we do what is best for our families, altogether forsaking the task of what we can do for others?

The last six-months have been confusing. They have forced us to be healthy in our own homes, to detach from society and polarize our (most-important) opinions. But was it for the greater good?

Let me challenge you this week: Go back out of your comfort zone. Find a way to reach out to someone you have lost touch with during this crazy year. Leave a care bag on their porch, a coffee, or a home-cooked meal. Send a handwritten letter to someone who might love to hear that you actually care.

The recent year has been a debacle of anger, of hurt and confusion and doubt. Covid has devised a crater between friends and family. Let’s re-focus on the corporate side of humanity now. Lean in to your community and create a pulse again. Only then will we begin to feel life the way that it was intended for us, whole, healing and happy.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
{Winnie the Pooh}

Are you in need of pregnancy help? Have you been caught unexpectedly by a positive test? Have you experienced an abortion and need to chat with someone about your feelings? We are here to help! We are a fully-staffed, free clinic located HERE in Youngstown, Ohio. Conveniently situated near St. Elizabeth’s Hospitals main and Boardman, Ohio campuses. You can reach us HERE to schedule an appointment online. Let us know how we can serve you today! #KnowYourOptions