Wilderness

I try to talk with my friends, acquaintances and colleagues about the present year.

“How are you?!” “Great!” “Fine” “So good to see you!” We go through the basic rhetoric as we each mumble with a hidden smiles and squinty eyes beneath our mandatory face masks.

(Can you tell I’m trying to smile at you?)” Are you excepting hugs”?

This year feels like such a mess, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it feel so angry and confusing and backwards? Trying to find the words to describe life is frustrating to me; and putting word-to-thought is my job. It’s what I ENJOY doing, yet I can barely find words for conversations these days when they do arise. (Please, be kind, and tell me I’m not the only one?)

Speechless. It’s the way so many of us are feeling as we watch the news and keep up with politics and social stances and argue over family meals as we tear each other apart in discussion about what is real and what is important. Our feelings control our conversations. Who can blame us? It’s how we’re left hanging two-months before an election and six-months after the rise of a global pandemic. Speechless.

The other day I ran into an acquaintance while standing in the school parking lot. Upon grabbing up our little ones, we relived the end of the last school year, and with hopeful intention, we pray for a better year ahead. “What did the year look like for your family? How did you survive”? We ask each other in-so-many words.Then my friend used a certain word to describe her year. And Just as she spoke it, I felt a wave of confirmation blended with conviction rush through me. My lack of understanding finally felt a sense of completion. I couldn’t put a finger on what the year felt like until now. Until she told me: Wilderness.

A season of drought. Of seeking after something. A time period of refrain and wandering and keeping our eyes fixed on something….something I just couldn’t put my finger on. My wilderness felt kind of deserted and dry.

As she spoke this to me, I spoke back with intention and vulnerability. You see, I felt kind of discontent in this season of quarantine. I felt the loneliness that an extrovert purposely diverts themselves from to avoid feeling lonely. The separation from my friends and my church and my children’s playdates was unbearable. My heart longed for more. My soul was created for companionship. I felt wilderness too, but we were in very different seasons.

Her season was in seeking; My season was in solace. 

So just like that, in a school parking lot, a place where so many conversations were cut short back in March, where learning from and leaning on other’s shoulders was stripped from us, I gained wisdom and revelation that I had so dearly craved and missed over my wandering season that is Covid.

What are we doing in this wilderness? Are we wandering around aimlessly grumbling, complaining and searching for the way back to the way life used to be? Lost like so many before us? Or are we seeking refinement in what lies ahead, waiting patiently for the next door to open, being hopeful for the promises and blessings that lie-in-wait on the other side of this year?

My perspective has shifted thanks to my generous friend and her wise use of words. In this wilderness of life, which perspective will you choose? My neighbor…What does your wilderness look like?

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

Noise

noise 

So much noise. I wake up in the morning to the sounds all around me. The children waking, the cars on the road, the news stations harping on what seems like “the end of the world” crashing down right outside my front door.

Do you ever get tired of it? Do you ever just crave a few moments of peace and quiet and stillness just long enough to hear yourself think? 

We live in a world of constants. At every turn something is vying for our attention. Social media, billboards, radio, phone calls…The noise is almost so loud sometimes it feels like it’s all too much to bear.

When I find myself in the carpool lane, in the Dr’s office waiting room, or sitting on the couch in the late evenings, it’s difficult to drown out the silence with all of the days noises drumming through my ears.

If I had to place my finger on it? It’s almost as if we haven’t figured out the art of how to Be Still. 

Being still doesn’t always mean we have to sit on a yoga mat and find inner peace (though, I will admit that is quite often a calming place to begin.) To be still doesn’t always look like being alone or locking yourself away in a quiet room, because -let’s face it- that isn’t always possible. Being still can be a process that looks different to every person, yet for the sake of sanity and peace? We must re-learn the practice and art form that is to Be Still.

When you wake in the morning? Don’t reach for the smart phone. Instead, open the blinds. Make your bed. Grab your morning coffee and sit in peace as the sun rises or the kids play. Be present. 

When the afternoon slump hits? Browse out your office window or car window for a few moments. Absorb the beauty that nature has waiting for us. Listen over the traffic for the sounds of the birds and the kids playing nearby. Soak in the warm sunshine or the drizzly rain and enjoy the peace that is present in the simplest of moments.

As the evening turns to dusk, consider the stars. Watch the night sky for the wonder and awe that is created for our viewing pleasure. Seek out the shooting stars and make a wish for what your heart desires. Sometimes being still and enjoying the moments that we once cherished in our childhood will restore rest and bring the peace we need to rise and do it all again.

So when you begin to hear all the noise inside your mind? When the lights and the sounds and the chaos of this life all start to feel like a little too much to handle? Practice the art of being still. Remember: there is so much more to this life than the craziness that we create. And enjoy the little things, after all, they are the big things!

 

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!  330-788-4000

#KnowYourOptions

 

Pregnancy Help Center blog discusses what impossible means and how to overcome it

Hey friend. I’m wondering. What uncertainties are you facing today? Is the world bearing down on your shoulders and stressing you out? Do you face an unknown fork in the road…unsure which weary road to travel next?

Sometimes this life throws us curve balls. Decision must be made that we cannot foresee consequences. Outcomes loom that may alter our futures or instead reveal a greater picture to us. What does that look like to you? What is yourWhat if” that you’re carrying daily?

Can I sit with you? Can I be here just for a minute to remind you that sometimes the scariest and biggest unknowns in our lives turn out to be the character building, integrity forcing growth points in our lives? Don’t get me wrong, these decisions are scary and haunting and tend to keep you up at night…but they don’t have to. 

I can tell you from experience that sometimes the scariest decisions in my life have only led me into a deeper understanding and empathy for those around me. That in fear I have coward to the chaos but in faith I have flourished into peace. 

What If…

When the “what if…” questions arise and you must make a decision that will impact your future…try leaning into your choices with knowledge.  Find hope that we are here to surround you with love and comfort. Seek understanding in the decisions that await for your approval. 

Don’t be afraid to take the unknown path, to take the road less traveled, to be the bigger person and forge a way where a way seems impossible. Because haven’t you heard? 

Nothing is impossible. 

“When God is about to do something great, he starts with a difficulty. When he is about to do something truly magnificent, he starts with an impossibility.” 

Armin Gesswein

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’re 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

pregnancy help center discusses strength in hard times

In case you haven’t noticed, the entire world around us seems to be changing. Changing Rapidly. Changing in what our lives look like, changing in how we dress when we leave the house. Changing how we plan our days and how many stops we make and where we eat, and with whom we shop and play.

But the most drastic change I’m noticing hasn’t been the way we enter the public realm, what color masks or material we choose to promote or even the opinions we share with our closest friends and family around once empty dinner tables.

The greatest assault on our world and our nation and our neighbors has been a continued revealing of our very own thoughts, opinions and hearts as we engage and respond to the realities we are living in. 

It’s only human nature to disagree. Since the very beginning of the ages humanity has had contention and anger and even lashed out at one another, but at what cost? At the price tag of allowing hate to bury seeds and destruction inside our hearts? To watch our closest family become bitter enemies as we divide the Tree of Liberty and chop her limbs and burn her roots? To cut off the ties that weave us as a once united front allowing death and deceit to control our thoughts and conversations? 

My heart has many feelings, but it is swollen with the sadness of division we have allowed to enter our societal fabric. We have allowed weekly courthouse meetings and status updates to depict which side of the fence will live or die. We have handed Fear the keys to our homes and given ourselves over to the powers that tell us who to obey and who to report. We choose to divide rather than connect.

 It has become unacceptable to have dynamic conversations. We must learn the art of paradigm: to hold contention in one hand and resolve in another. To not lash out amongst social media threads and share opinions that will neither connect and communicate for the greater good, but rather enter into sweet communication seasoned with salt and light and engage in humility the race that has been set before us in this ordained season of our lives. 

It has been four months since the world around me has “shut down.” But it has been what feels like an eternity of watching my family members, my neighbors, my friends spew their opinions and anger and assaults at each other and even myself for our own convictions and beliefs. 

My friends, my neighbors, my brothers, my sisters…at the end of the road, when we meet our fate -which we all eventually will- whether by Covid or coronary- remember:

We will be known for our words.

We will be know for our actions,

but most of all?

We will be known by our Love. 

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

Pregnancy Help Center Logo

FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real.

Except, when it is real. When what we’re most afraid of is what actually happens. When that diagnosis we were most unprepared for becomes reality. When Covid-19 shows up in your family and you’re quite sure this is going to be the end. When that sudden loss of life in your neighborhood hits entirely too close to home. When the child in your life is the one affected by disease and leaves this world much before her time… The answer to so many questions just seems to be….why? And we’re just sitting here…waiting impatiently for the other shoe to drop. 

Is Fear the objective? To live in fear with the total absence of hope and life? Allowing fear to control the situations in our lives is to let anxiety and depression create a corner in our hearts and minds to root and take stronghold. To let fear fester will only allow fortresses to be torn down and building blocks to be broken. Fear is not our friend. Rather, fear is leading us to the slow death of failure. 

To understand fear is to contradict that which is safe. Fear: the monster that’s only aim is to control  and consume us. Devour. It speaks to us like a friend, reminding us gently of what could always go wrong.It whispers into our ears in the quiet of the night reminding us to pay attention to the problems of this world.  “What if you get cancer and die? What will happen if I lose my job or we lose the house?” What about our current state of the sick world? We’re overflowing with statistics and conspiracies and racism pain inside of our country? “Make sure you read this article on social media today, my friend. It will inform you of everything that is sure to scare you. Don’t forget to turn the television on tonight and catch the evening news. You won’t want to miss the whole world burning down around your safe little town.” 

The voice of fear will only amplify when we give credit to its words. We must listen to the voice of Wisdom, to the truths that are found inside every lie. To the root of every problem and not the noise surrounding and illuminating them. 

There is so much to lose to this life of fear. So many things to consider and ponder and waste hours of healthy energy over. Let the world live, and in this world, be found whole and productive in your life. The hours we waste don’t return. The anxious thoughts and consuming fears that are planted don’t sprout change or bear healthy fruit, only destruction and defeat.

And when we are lost in the fear that desires to deeply to destroy us it is then that we must remember: 

Where there is darkness? There is Light. 

Where there is sadness and loss there is also Hope. 

And Where there is fear? Let there also be faith. 

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!

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!