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About Courtney Stanford

Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus and the writer of her blog, Let Every Heart.  She is the wife of a worship pastor and the mommy of three little men. Courtney is an elementary school teacher on hiatus, while she is currently a stay-at-home Mommy and the keeper of a joyful (yet slightly noisy) home that she lovingly refers to as her "frat house."  Whether she is leading a Bible study for women, teaching her adult Sunday School class, or writing for her blog, Courtney is an enthusiastic encourager of Christ followers, especially women and children. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!  
 

Being Pro-life or Living Pro-life? The Very Real Difference That You Need to Know

Courtney Stanford
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Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus and the writer of her blog, Let Every Heart.  She is the wife of a worship pastor and the mommy of three little men. Courtney is an elementary school teacher on hiatus, while she is currently a stay-at-home Mommy and the keeper of a joyful (yet slightly noisy) home that she lovingly refers to as her "frat house."  Whether she is leading a Bible study for women, teaching her adult Sunday School class, or writing for her blog, Courtney is an enthusiastic encourager of Christ followers, especially women and children. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!  
 
#abortion #new life #redemption

 

Women don’t talk about such things, the things that hurt so badly to remember, the one story that  was rarely told because it was too surreal and scary a time to really ever recall.  But I know. I know what it is to sit across from an obstetrician who says, “We cannot detect a baby in your ultrasound.  You should expect to miscarry in the next couple of days.”  It was a knife to my heart.  How could he say those words so quickly, so easily, about my child?  I get it.  I know he didn’t detect a baby, so he didn’t actually have reason to feel like he was telling me that I would lose a child….but as the mother, I felt the loss immediately.

“I am leaving for a family camping trip this weekend.  I don’t want to tell anyone about this,” I rambled through watery eyes.  

The kind doctor’s response was so quick and emotionless that I was angry.  “That is your choice,” he replied, “but it will probably only take a day or two.”  The sting of shock felt red-hot in my face.

I remember the things I kept saying again and again, trying to convince him otherwise.  “This happened to me with my last son, and he’s a real, living, breathing child,” I whispered, “Could it be that this baby just isn’t showing up?” I was insistent, but I truly couldn’t convince this professional specialist, otherwise.  I knew that he knew better…obviously.  Still, I was certain that I had heard these words before, from a different obstetrician in a different practice, about a little boy–the two year old who sat with his daddy and big brother in the waiting room.  

Before we go any further, please know that I don’t share this story to shed a bad light on anyone.  I really like the person in this conversation and for that reason, I will never tell you the doctor’s name or practice.  He is an excellent professional with many years of experience…which only added to my worry when he told me to call him after the miscarriage.  That is exactly what he called it that day, “the miscarriage.”

The weekend continued.  My husband and I took our two little boys camping with the rest of our extended family  because we were very certain that we had lived through this once before and that our baby would be just fine.  We assumed that perhaps my ultrasound had been very early on, so maybe our baby simply couldn’t be detected yet.  {I had suggested that theory in the office as well but that wasn’t accepted as a possibility either.  Truthfully, it might have been most professional of him to not build hope where he couldn’t see any signs of hope.} We were hopeful though, as well as highly concerned, and we truthfully just had to press on for our other two children.  

We drove back from our camping trip early on Saturday night because my husband is the worship pastor at our church.  Sunday morning came.  It was awful.  I couldn’t keep this hurt to myself but we hadn’t even told anyone I was expecting just yet.  At different points throughout the day, I shared the story with three women: the other two staff wives at my church, both close friends of mine, and my very closest friend, Stephanie.  The three women were encouraging…although I could tell they were as concerned as I was.  Keeping anything to myself always makes it harder for me to process, and I remember telling the youth pastor’s wife, “Today just feels like a funeral,” and then later, I recall saying to the pastor’s wife, “How could he so easily tell me that I should expect to miscarry in a few days?!  He clearly doesn’t believe that this child is even there.  I feel like he doesn’t believe me.  I know it’s his job and he knows better…but would he be so frank if he told me one of my other children wasn’t going to survive the weekend?”  The three women all prayed in the coming days and we all waited.  It is important for me to say again that I understand the doctor’s frame of reference was based upon the fact that a baby was not detected at all.  I was told that there was “a sack but no baby.”  I know this really happens.  It had happened to my good friend about 5 years before, but remember: I had been told this before about a baby who was spotted at the second ultrasound and was born a perfectly healthy child so my confusion was unbearable.  The waiting and the songs from the worship service that morning don’t seem to be two and a half years ago.  I can still recall the hot sting of tears in my eyes as I sang, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone.”  I remember digging my hands into the pockets of my denim dress as I sang, “Because I know, He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives.”

The waiting continued.  Nothing happened.  Eventually, I received a call from the doctor’s office.  My hormone levels were completely normal.  They scheduled another ultrasound.  In this ultrasound, they clearly saw our baby and life returned to normal.  Just like that, the prenatal appointments were scheduled and he was considered a real life…and I couldn’t help but remember how he had been overlooked just days before.  The pain of those days is an {almost} distant memory and that child (the one that I insisted was there all along) is a healthy, happy, funny toddler.  He will turn two next month and he is a walking ray of sunshine.  He has two older brothers, but all three children are unique and irreplaceable masterpieces, created for very different purposes in our family and in our world.  They are all valid, precious creations.  We can’t really explain the rarity of my situation, but it appears that my babies just take a bit longer to show up in ultrasounds.  And that is that.  What can I say?  They like to take their time, I guess.  This cannot be explained logically.  Evidently, it is somewhat unusual.  Clearly.  

I do know this.  The day came in the hospital room when a nurse brought me a packet of prenatal and postnatal forms to sign my name, fill in our baby boy’s name, and so on.  After filling it out, I flipped back a few pages to see my medical records.  I will never forget the two words…words that I cannot type to this day…because I’m just not that “medical-ish,” to handle such harsh terms.  I asked my nurse friend, later, what those two words recorded in the October postpartum records meant.  Fully knowing my story, she told me that those words are the terminology…the terminology that means a miscarriage was expected but (for a lack of better words)…avoided.  Those are some crazy words to read while holding your newborn baby in your arms.  

Really, now.  At what point have we become so flippant about life?  For the third time, I feel the need to say that I know this was all part of the medical routine…but to that…to that, I ask, “Why do we take the beginning of human life so lightly?”  A child is a child from the first day.  My baby was as important to God on day one as his two older brothers who were then (almost) two and three-years-old.  Yet, it was recorded in September that he was not expected to become a part of our family.  Little black letters typed onto white paper…yet God’s plan for our little guy was much greater than the dignity he was given in that early weekend as he was growing into the creation of God’s handiwork that he was designed to become.  It makes me wonder what we all really know down here, anyway?  We are just people.  God is God.  He gives and takes away.

Our little guy’s birth announcement has Psalm 139:16 at the bottom.  It is  framed in the hallway of our home beside the birth announcements of his older brothers.  The verse speaks the truth of his earliest days, a truth our baby shares with every other baby created by the hand of God:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;  all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~Psalm 139:16 NIV

My life has been blessed by courageous women who have experienced unborn life from every possible perspective.  I have friends who have said goodbye to babies so early in their tiny lives, friends who have adopted babies, friends who miss the baby that they thought they wouldn’t be able to care for, friends who long to hold a baby in their arms, and friends who welcome babies into their lives long before they expected to be mothers.  I know that my experience is drastically different than what so many mothers endure.  I am thankful for the gifts that God has given us.  I don’t know why some things are as they are.  I will never attempt to explain the reason that mothers have to say goodbye to babies.  I do not know.  I see the hurt.  I know that only God sees the entire story of our lives and that He is still writing those stories to completion.  I know He gives and takes away…and I know that His ways are higher than my ways.  I know that life, every life, no matter how tiny, is precious in the eyes of the Creator of life.

Last night, I heard the words of a beautifully wise woman who works with mothers and babies on a daily basis.  Her job, her mission field, her calling–it all points to the Giver of good and perfect gifts.  She is in the constant position of speaking truth and life into the hurting hearts of women and girls in the earliest days of their child’s life in the womb.  It is with her gracious permission that I share a snippet of her wisdom.  It is my honor to spread this beautiful truth as far as this blog can possibly reach.  The world needs to embrace her life-giving words, based on the truth of God’s redemptive nature, mercy, and loving-kindness.

As she stood at the podium, hair meticulously coiled in an elegant up-do for this important event, she spoke with grace and compassion of the crucial necessity of those who vote and speak on behalf of unborn life.  She thanked the audience for supporting the innocent creations of God, those fragile heartbeats that are so often dismissed.  Then, she said something that spoke so deeply to my heart: something so profound that it begged me to “shout it from the mountain-tops.” {…or type it in a blog, that is.  Same thing, no?} 

My wise friend presented a new thought, “There is a difference,” she began with a loving confidence, “in being pro-life and in living prolife.”  The audience was still.

As I pondered the difference, I was quite certain that those around me were processing her words as well.  I was in good company and I could clearly see the turning wheels in the minds of my fellow audience members.  

The wise woman continued with merciful examples of ways the audience members could live pro-life lives.  “You can smile at the young mother in the grocery store, help her carry her bags to the car,” she smiled.  This wise woman is an experienced mother and still has a fairly small child in her home.  Like me, she lives the reality of the “grocery store.”  Fellow mamas…you know.  The struggle is real!  Amen?!

Her other suggestions were every bit as simple to apply and yet every bit as meaningful in the life of a young mother or father.  {I would know, right?  I’ve got a few littles running about.}  She continued speaking in truth and grace, reminding the audience that our world needs those that vote and speak up but again giving a beautiful suggestion of living, really living a pro-life life.  

“When a woman tells you she is expecting, the pro-life response, no matter the circumstances, should always be, ‘Congratulations,’ or ‘Children are a blessing,’ because every child is a gift from God.”

In my heart, I am so deeply sure of the truth in her words.  Children are a blessing.  Maybe that is what I had truly needed to hear from my obstetrician that September day, a couple of years ago.  Perhaps I just wanted to hear him acknowledge the life of my unborn child.  I know, now, the obvious truth that I didn’t hear that first visit.  I know that my son was planned by God.  I know that he is a tremendous blessing.  I see him, every day, for who he really is: a gift from God.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away and I know my hurt was brief and minimal compared to those that experience a real loss of a child: before or after the birth of that child.  I am beyond thankful to hold our (now) squirmy, happy, and silly toddler in my arms each day.  I know that it could have gone differently for our little family.  Truthfully, I would have seen our little guy as a masterpiece no matter the outcome of his second ultrasound.  I would have known the value of his life, whether he was acknowledged in a doctor’s office or not because I know the value of life to the Creator of all life…but I would have felt alone.  Life matters and our world will be a more beautiful place when we truly grasp the sanctity of all life.

All lives are created by God and all lives matter to Him: unborn babies, new babies, young lives, elderly lives, all lives in the middle of living, lives of every color and race and culture, lives of every occupation and responsibility.   (Yes, if you were reading between the lines, I said it.)  Black lives matter.  One of my very best friends?  She matters.  Her family matters.  Police lives matter.  One of my very closest cousins?  He matters.  His family matters, too.  These people I just mentioned and the many more lives that I could use as examples of precious-to-God people?  They matter!  They all matter!  Your life matters.  Every life.  Could we knock it off, already?  Could we stop pretending that only some lives matter?  Could we stop acting like we can pick and choose who matters to God?  Could we, pretty please, stop pretending that we can choose which lives matter and call that a political opinion?  You see, you cannot choose sides when it comes to life.  You cannot declare yourself on the side of police lives, or black lives, or born lives, or unborn lives, or pick a gestational week and agree with God.  You cannot.  If you pick a side, you are in disagreement with God in Psalm 139 and a great many other places.  Sheesh.  Why? I shall tell you, friends.  It is this truth: God has created those lives.  He created every single one and they are precious in His sight.

We can vote pro-life and that must happen from the voters that share my convictions and from those that choose to believe God’s truth.  Are we ready to live in a way that shows the world we care about all lives?  Does our way of life point to the knowledge of the Creator of all good things?  Do we agree with what God says so clearly in Psalm 139?

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
 I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you  when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;  all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  ~Psalm 139:13-16

Where does this leave you?  What is your response to an unexpected, unborn life?  Will you be brave enough to live a compassionate life that always lovingly answers, “Children are a blessing,” or will you pick and choose? Will your life support mothers and fathers and children? Will you make choices that encourage and give to those that choose life?  Will you bravely show compassionate love and speak of a Redeemer full of mercy when someone bravely tells you she did not choose life?  Friends, her life matters too.  She matters so much to her Creator and she must matter to you.

 The God who created each life is much bigger than our political views often make Him out to be.  His ways are higher than our ways and He has the capacity to love each and every life He has created without exception…without condition…in spite of every circumstance.  He is faithful to break every chain and to provide for every child.  As you live a life, eager to proclaim Him as the Savior, stop and think: Is your life reflecting the Creator of every good and perfect gift?  Do you live a life seeking the heart of God?  Do you seek His capacity to show love to every life in spite of every circumstance?  He does not make mistakes.  You are not a mistake.

May your life reflect the unconditional love of our Creator and our Redeemer.  He has called us by name and He knows the hairs on our head.  He says you matter.  May you live a life boldy in favor of all life.

Jesus loves the little children.  All the children of the world.  Every color, shape, and size: they are precious in His eyes.  Jesus loves the little children of the world.

 

From my “Mommy Heart” to yours,     ~Courtney

Friends, I know this post hits deeply with so many people on so many levels.  Whatever your story, I am praying {right now, before I post this} that you will find peace and rest for your heart and your life at the feet of Jesus.  You are His treasure, His creation.  He loves you and wants to hold you through it all.  May your heart find strength in His unfailing love.  Amen. 

 Love, Courtney

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