Love Your Neighbor

love thy neighbor as thyself pregnancy help center youngstown ohio

Love your neighbor as yourself. 

Given originally as the second greatest command, there ought to be some weight in that origination. I believe there was some reasoning for why we were told many years ago to love each other so fiercely…and  specifically to love our neighbors. 

There is an age old question we often sweep under the rug. We take it at face-value. We use it for our own comfort.  Just who exactly is my neighbor? Am I commanded to love only the person I share my driveways and sidewalks with? Should I share a simple wave as I walk to gather the day’s bills and fliers from the mailbox and wander back into my quiet abode? Do I make meals for those suffering only in the circumference of my comfort zone and quietly watch the world burn down around me?

Could my neighbors be outside my line of vision? Perhaps they reside outside the lines that resemble the city limits. Maybe my neighbors  live in homes like mine… or perhaps look differently built not with tidy brick and vinyl siding, but rather stucco and dirt floors. Instead of sectioned, decorative rooms they share bedrooms and  eating utensils. Do my neighbors resemble only my face in the mirror? 

Do my neighbors live within my walls? What about those nearest to me inside the same four structures of this home. A prominent author once pointed out that perhaps we ought to be loving our own children as our neighbors. After all, they are the humans closest to me; o how often it is my family that receives the worst of my intentions. Am I loving my littlest neighbor with the best of my heart and soul and attitudes? The best that I have to offer the world…it  ought to begin somewhere… right?

Some basic studies prove that “neighbor” can in-fact be translated to “alien.” This derivation depicts that at some point, we have all been strangers in our own home lands. We have all been wanderers and gypsies searching for some divine purpose to drive our lives. We each need a reason to stand for what we believe with the hope that our blip-of-time here on this earth will make a mark for some greater good. 

Neighbor holds such great context and conviction in my mind. I must ask myself. Do I love my neighbors both around my block and around the world without preconceived notions of who they are? Do I choose who to love well and who to discard? Do my values and beliefs align with only those with whom I choose to love? These are the moments I must reset my feelings and focus on the facts. I must love my neighbor, no matter their affiliation, no matter their skin color, no matter their socioeconomic status or church membership. Love my neighbor.

And… if I lay down my combative arms and make the choice to love, How exactly do I love? Of many things I am taught that…Love is the constant choice to trust, to protect, to be patient and kind. Love will find joy in the Truth and not seek to serve only itself. Love will not be proud and easy to anger, and it will not boast. I will check my love against my own free-will and be reminded that I am unconditionally loved…at my best and at my worst.

Love does not mean allowing our enemies to overcome our good intentions, but maybe, just maybe, love can take us one step further and teach us just how to love our enemies as much as we love the person staring back at us in the mirror. 

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Are you in need of pregnancy help? Have you been caught unexpected by a positive test? Have you experienced an abortion and need to chat with someone about it? We’re here to help! We’re a fully-staffed clinic located HERE in Youngstown, Ohio between St. Elizabeth’s Boardman and Youngstown campuses. You can also reach us HERE to schedule an appointment. Let us know how we can serve you today!

Godspeed

youngstown pregnancy help blog

The Challenges We Face

Hi friend. How are you? No I mean, How are you..really? 

How are you handling our new normal? How do you feel when you have to decide who will go into the grocery store today and who will stay in the car with the children. What do you think in your mind as you breathe in your own recycled air beneath your face mask? Aren’t the plastic barriers between us and the tape lines on the floor depicting where we can stand…strange? 

Last week I saw a friend down the aisle from me in the store. At first, we exchanged glances with only our eyes wondering…”is that you?” We came closer but kept a less than safe distance as I nearly pulled my mask away to have a chat with her. I stopped myself. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to feel a friends warm embrace reminding me that we’re going to get through this, that we are all frustrated and scared and uncertain of what this all actually means, but no. We couldn’t. We shouldn’t. So we didn’t. And I regretted it. 

We wonder when normal will return. We wonder what normal will look like.We hold on to the promises of what we know to be true in the chaos of what is unknown. 

Two months have come and gone since we were met with the news of sheltering-in-place. Two-months of crisis-schooling at home. Two months of no play dates, no church service, no family dinners or birthday celebrations. Easter was celebrated via tv screens and zoom calls. Religion has sought revival within the four walls of our homes. Press conferences are something we schedule to watch weekly and hold our healthy lungs wondering when we might be able to live and breathe freely again. 

Things Have Changed

So how are you my friend? How is your heart handling the stress of a pandemic? What can you do to shake up your mundane routine inside the same rooms day-after-day? The truth is, I’m not sure normal will ever return to us again. Even when we return to work, when the parks and playgrounds re-open and we can hug our families again, we might always be reminded of the fear of lockdown. We will tell our grandchildren of what it was like to live during a time when we were afraid to go outside for fear of what we could not see. The history books will write of the governing and the statistics and the conspiracies that we are living within. We might hope and pray for a flattened curve and this virus to disappear. But until those days are upon us, let us, at the very least, strive to find gratitude in the places where we are found.

And so, I will challenge myself with these ideas. I will say them out loud. I will write them on paper. I will sing with joy and encourage my family to participate. Let me ask you to consider doing the same: 

Instead of being ungrateful for the house that I (an extrovert) am stuck within… I will choose thankfulness for warmth for food and safety in the comfort of my own home. For a place to call our own with more than we could really ever need. 

Instead of frustration in the check-out lines and one-way paths in the grocery store, I will be thankful for my access and provision for the foods that I both want and need. I will pray for an opportunity to see a friendly face behind a cloth -if only for a quick conversation (face mask-to-face mask.)

Moving Forward

Instead of wondering when reality will reopen, I will rest in the unwavering Hope that I know supersedes any virus or pandemic on this side of life. And know that this is only for a season.

My neighbors,  my friends, my family how I long for the day when we are in celebration of each other and our lives to return to some semblance of normalcy. Until then, I will be thankful for each of you. I will remember you in my thoughts, and hope for the day when we are free from fear and doubts. Until the day when we are together again. Godspeed. 


Are you unexpectedly pregnant? Have you experienced an abortion and need an ear to listen to your thoughts? We can help. Give us a call today. We are located in Youngstown, Ohio near St. Elizabeth’s and Akron Children’s hospitals. Reach out today and we’ll make an appointment here to sit and chat. We would love to hear from you.

Motherhood.

abortion clinic youngstown ohio

This beautiful structure of life that reminds us how resilient and resourceful we really are. 

Mom? I hope your Mother’s Day was a little less chaotic than everyday life. I hope it brought you (at-the-very-least) a few moments to soak in some rest in the middle of your reality. 

Before motherhood, I was certain I was created for this position. You know? The one where you wake up to a snuggly, squishy face and soak in the cuddles for the better part of a day. My children would sleep, and I would be rested; their clothes would be matched and ironed. 

Before motherhood, I knew I was patient enough to handle the temper tantrums and sleepless nights of teething and fevers. I knew I was strong enough to handle ER visits and antibiotics and broken bones. 

Before motherhood, I knew my children would read books early and be the wisest in their classes. I knew we would have a bond like no other. I would make it to every school meeting. I would be the primary source of their educational needs and be sure to cultivate their little brains.

Before motherhood, I would breastfeed exclusively. I would never feed my growing children in the car for just a few minutes of quiet or give them fast-food. I would only provide the best of nutrition that only I could provide. 

Before motherhood, I just knew I would be the best mother. 

And then something happened. I became a mother. 

After motherhood, My own goals became stressors as I realized I couldn’t function very peacefully on little to no sleep. My babies didn’t always wake with sweet snuggles but instead they were more like me…grouchy and restless and needing baths and changing. Their clothes still match sometimes, but I’ve learned that it’s actually ok to let go a little. 

After motherhood, I found myself more often than not in repentance for my bad moods or my temper-tantrums. I worried more over fevers and teething as my babies cried relentlessly through the nights more than I ever anticipated. I cried on car rides both to-and-from hospital visits as I wondered, was I doing the best for my baby? 

After motherhood, I read as many books as my babies would allow and eventually walked them into school buildings where the torch of education was handed to their trusted teachers. I became a working mother, and schooling wasn’t as easy as I once hoped it would be. I leaned on their educators to fill that role. And that was ok. 

After motherhood, I realized that my baby was fed by whatever means I could provide, and their belly’s were happy. I put down the warfare of choosing sides with friends and encouraged other mothers to do what is best for their own family. And yet again, I’ve learned that sometimes, our hardest critic is the mother in the mirror.

After motherhood, I learned that I am the best mother for my children. And so are you. 

You were chosen for the role of motherhood that you find yourself in right now. Whether biological, adoptive, family raising family, foster… your children are in your care for a purpose. Raise them with your conviction and your wisdom and your truths that have been poured into you for this very moment. Look into the faces of our future and pour love into their little souls. Realize that not every detail matters like love matters and speak life into the adults that they will one day grow-up to become. And one day, not too far from now, they will tell you just how:

“You are the best mom in the whole world.”

Looking for guidance on an unplanned pregnancy? We’re here to help. Located between Akron, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Pregnancy Help Center can be found in Youngstown, Ohio. Find us on the web for appointments and availability of resources for our communities in need.

What If?

The last few weeks have been nothing short of confusing; Nothing lesser then antagonizing to my once, calm spirit.  I hear the radio. I see the press conferences. I soak in the conversations that my family and friends, who, from across distant phone lines send text messages and flood social media inboxes expressing with wonder and concern the gauge at which to measure our seemingly endless surplus of worry. 

I venture out into the world now so infrequently it feels as though I’m but a stranger behind the wheel of my very own car. I shared a few smiles with strangers in the grocery aisles today before  I realized that my smile was hidden beneath a surgical, paper mask. Could they tell? Did they see the light in my eyes expressing the relief I felt to be in the presence of humanity ( if only for long enough to catch my fate of disease or death)? Such a strange paradox of emotion. Hope in one hand, death in the other.

So much has changed. For so many of us. Our children have become our full-time students. Our careers  are now within our kitchen walls or have simply evaporated. Our church services echo through our tv screens with worship that feels lonely -albeit necessary. Our neighbors wave from across the way and through windows but our calendars feel vacant from warm hugs and coffee dates. Our very need for physical interaction has been stripped from our freedoms. 

In the middle of every fear, every outburst of emotional angst or frustration filled with tears… there is a still, small voice that whispers to my cynical side…”but what if…”

But what if this is my chance to send a few messages. To reach out to people I never would have given a second thought to before? What if that mom over there could use a pick-me up text? What if I went out of my comfort zone to reach out to her?

What if my inability to be out in public calms my impossibility to “be still.” What if I really don’t need to wander the aisles at Target this weekend and feel inferior to my inability to keep up with the latest Magnolia styles. What if all this is teaching me that I really don’t have to keep up with the Jones’? What if stuff, really is just…stuff. It doesn’t give me peace. It doesn’t satisfy my soul. What if I just learned to be content with my home, my place, my solace. 

What if this time with my children inside the walls of our home teaches me to know them more? To learn the hearts of these little humans who are gone for so many hours every week. Whom at one time would never have left my bedside. What if they’re feeling such stress from all of this that they just need to sit next to their mother at our little kitchen table while I drink my morning coffee and chat with me about barbies? Maybe they just need to feel love…safe? What if that is why they’re here? 

What if my church has been mobilized to my home not to constrain my faith but to expand my belief? Perhaps the church isn’t the four walls of a building but the people who make up the hands and feet of Jesus in every corner of the world. Am I practicing Salt and Light in the community closest to me? Or am I hiding my light under my very own pity party of a bushel.

One thing is for sure, I may not see the end. I may feel every emotion just as much as the next woman, but I can’t help but wonder…If at the end of all of this, this virus, this pandemic, this emotional, frustrating, confusing, stressful season…will I be proud of the way I handled what was gifted to me? Did my words, my writing, my attitude reflect the character of the person within? Did I allow refining of the rarest kind? 

What about you? What if all of this was just a glimpse at the person you are to become? What if at the end of all this, you wake up stronger, smarter and more confident in your purpose and place in this world. What if you are the light in someone else’s darkness? Together we are bound by this very strange season.  United in hope is where we stand; Dare I ask you on the other side of this page…What will you gain from this moment in time? How will you impact the world, your neighborhood, your home? What if?

Are you in need of resources for your young family? Here at the Pregnancy Help Center,although we are currently closed for walk-in appointments, our baby boutique resources are still available to you during the Covid crisis. We are conveniently located close to St. Elizabeth’s Mercy Health hospital and Akron Children’s hospitals in Boardman, Ohio, and only a short distance from St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. Contact us through our website to let us know how we can help. No child should be without necessities. We are here for you. Contact us here now! 

The Uncertainty

Uncertainty looms in the atmospheres around. We gather and prepare for situations unlike any before. We look to our news channels our social feeds, our neighbors and families for feelings of familiarity, for safety, for surety.

What is fear? What is that tickle inside my being that thwarts any sense of ease and peace. The facts surround us with the collapsing sense of normalcy inside each of our homes. Our schools are shut down, many jobs evacuated, quarantine becoming the status quo as we grasp at straws for the end of this season that is seemingly nowhere in sight.

Where do we turn? Whom can we trust? What happens next? All valid concerns that I hear my mother-friends whisper over telephone lines and constant text messages…all with hopes that this is just a really bad dream.

But when we awake, to the same collapsing structure and worsening health scenarios, the looming and ever-growing statistics and numbers and factors that try to determine my level of stress and anxiety? I will choose hope. 

I will believe in the greater good that has not yet escaped our warm homes. I will choose to alter my view of unforeseen homeschooling as ample time to pour faith, hope, and love at greater capacities into my children, not only in word but also in deed. I will anchor my thoughts in the positivity that flows from living room dance parties and kitchen science experiments as the next few days flow into weeks, and dare I wonder…months. 

Hope is the anchor that holds us into place in these uncertain times. Stand firm in the fires of the unknown my dear friends. Hold tight to the truths that are always found within the walls of our homes, pour energy into the nurturing of the little ones who need you to be safe and secure even when everything around us exposed to virus is not. And remember…there is always light to be found inside of the darkness. 

{Are you or a loved one experiencing the effects of the widespread pandemic known as Coved-19 or Coronavirus? Here are the pregnancy help center, we are aware of the repercussions that our local hospitals and cities are experiencing in the Mahoning and Trumbull counties. We lend our hearts, thoughts and prayers to anyone experiencing the unknowns and stress of this situation. Our center is open with limited testing options right now. Please, let us know how we can help in your options discussion for unplanned pregnancy. Stay safe. Stay Healthy. We’re in this together. #KnowYourOptions }

Sweet Friendship

Friendships:

Defined in Websters dictionary as  “affection arising from mutual esteem and good will; friendliness; amity; good will.”

Aristotle described friendship as taking on three forms: “those based on utility, those based on pleasure or delight, and those grounded in virtue.”

Even charming Winnie the Pooh spoke words of wisdom on friendship when he said:“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

As a child, I believed that friendship revolved around sleepovers and stuffed animals. Who would I share my lunch box treats with this week? Who would climb the tallest tree and ride their bike as fast as I could down the winding hill beside me? But when we grow, when we mature and age and the harsh realities of this world knock on our front doors, our views of this world, -and friendship- change. “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

I’m not sure when that shifts. I don’t recall a moment when my childhood best friend and I put away our tiny doll clothes and barbie houses. I wish I could relive that last climb in that backyard tree, or swing on that rope just one more time, with the carefree finesse that only childhood allows. But alas. I have put away the childhood things, in preparation for my own children to one day hopefully enjoy for themselves. 

Those memories of childhood? They’re equally as important as the moments it took to make them. I carry cherished moments of getting caught outside in the rain. Not caring what store my clothes were from, not wondering when the next shoe might drop, not holding my breath for the next big break. Instead, I find myself in laughter over the birthday parties and cake failures and battle wounds won in the arena of my childhood. I relive the innocence of riding backwards in a station wagon without any seatbelts. I let my mind wander to my best friend of my youth and her infectious smile that holds so much of my childhood joy.

Friendship as an adult? It doesn’t need to change. It parallels our youth in many regards. Laughter is the key component to opening our souls to sweet friendship. Airing our hearts in their fears and pains and heartbreaks, tenderly loving each other in our weakest of moments. Weeping together. Rejoicing with each other in happiness in our seasons of completion and joy. And cheering each other on in encouragement right in the middle of our own messy and wild races. 

Friendship is the fiber that binds our souls to one another. How very tenderly we must nurture these bonds and cultivate the soul where genuine love blooms forth. Find your person. Your true friends. Your tribe of people who walk with you into fiery furnaces and hold you through the storms. And someday, when they’re walking into their own trials, you’ll be able to take them by the arm, remind them of their worth, and carry them through their pain. These are the moments where friendship is grown. Not in the sunshine when the flowers are finished and beautiful, but deep down in the darkness of the soil -where the roots go. Plant your friendships in good soil, dear ones. And prepare to watch the beautiful garden of life grow around you. 

Looking for information on adoption, abortion, pregnancy and more? We’re here to help. Click here to connect with us today! Don’t wait! #KnowYourOptions