I am extremely sad to report that Baby Madison passed away in her mother’s arms. After a long battle to live, our littlest baby ever (Bethany House’s) now resides in her eternal home, in the arms of Christ. This is a very difficult time for Rachel (Madison’s mom) and all the staff and volunteers at Bethany House. We ask that you keep Rachel in your prayers. Her faith in God has allowed her to walk through this challenging time with grace. Although heartbroken, she rests in the knowledge that someday she, too, will join her daughter in the presense of God Almighty. They will indeed meet again. Madison is hidden in her heart where she will remain until that special day.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, especially a baby or child, you understand the wide range of emotions that this young mother is experiencing. You have likely asked God some pretty tough “Why” questions along the path of grieving. I’d like to invite you to read an incredible book that responds tenderly to the “where were you God?” question. The book is The Shack. Please take the time to read this obviously God-ordained story. I suspect you will be as surprised and as comforted as I was.
Again, thank you for your prayers and support of Bethany House.
God bless you!
Mom, Rachel sits proudly next to her tiny new baby. This baby, born weighing only 1.9 ounces truly is a miracle. Without Bethany House miracles like this would diminish because young, pregnant women would have nowhere to turn. Please read the following letter carefully with an open heart.
Bethany House could close by the end of June.
You and a small group of other faithful people have provided the support and encouragement that has allowed us to care for the 440 girls and their babies God has brought to us over the past 18 years. Recent economic challenges have caused a number of people to cut back their support or suspend it altogether resulting in a $6,000 deficit each month. If nothing changes our savings will be completely depleted in June.
Tragically, pregnant girls needing shelter may not have anywhere else to go. Three other maternity homes in the Portland/Vancouver area have closed recently. Yet, the number of girls desperate to save the lives of their babies has not diminished. More people are now needed to provide the financial support so these girls can have a safe, nurturing environment to have their babies.
From the beginning, we have striven to be good stewards of the resources God has provided us. We have focused the vast majority of our resources on the care of the girls under our roof and preparing them for their lives as new mothers. We have lacked sufficient resources to reach out to others to help share the blessing of providing the needed support. We have sought the counsel and accountability of others to guide us, and we are actively seeking foundation grants to pay for out-reach efforts, but these take more time than we currently have. We desperately need you to pray about others you know who also have a heart for unborn children and their mothers. Our website www.bethanyhousenet.org has more information and the ability for you to make online donations.
Executive Director, Bethany House
In God’s hands. Ummmmmm. I love those words. What a safe place to be. Although things in this life can get more than a little challenging, understanding that we belong to a holy God allows us to keep going when giving up sounds preferable.
Ever wanted to throw in the towel? Of course you have! You’re human and life is hard and at times seems unbearable. Right now, at Bethany House, life has been rocky for one young mom and her little (and I mean little) baby.
Several days ago, this mom noticed that her swelling was increasing at an alarming rate. Her legs looked more like tree trunks then legs. Thankfully, the staff at Bethany House ensured she got to the doctor ASAP. After glancing at our girl, the good doctor sent her directly to the local hospital, who after running a barrage of tests, rushed her to yet another hospital specializing in Neo Natal Care. Oh, I failed to mention, this young lady was only six months pregnant!
Talk about your world rocking beneath your feet. It’s times like these when clinging to God is the only answer. After all, there are no athiests in foxholes. This precious woman remained calm and strong in spite of her highly concerning circumstances. She continued to rest in the knowledge that God was in charge no matter what happened. There was a whole lot of praying going on as staff and volunteers reached out into the community for prayer support. Shortly after arriving to the new hospital, an emergency C-section was ordered.
Amazingly, a short time later, a 1 lb 9 ounce baby girl (Madison) was welcomed into the world. Yes, her entry was not as planned, and yes there are many more trials ahead, but mom is trusting that together they rest in God’s hands. I’d like to ask that you pray for little Madison. I’ll post a photo as soon as I can. It’s difficult to get a picture at this time as she is still in intensive care where she will remain for some time. She is, thankfully, breathing on her own and mom is doing much better, as well.
Without Bethany House, who knows where this mom would have been.
Would she have made it to the doctor? Would she have even known to go? Thank goodness we don’t have to answer those questions because a program like Bethany House is available and she will continue to live within its safety for months to come. But, I think that it’s important for you to know that in the Portland/Vancouver area three maternity programs have recently, or are getting ready to close due to lack of funding. This is frightening to say the least.
If helping infants and their young mothers is important to you, I’d like to challenge you to get involved and to consider supporting Bethany House, or a program like it in your own area. For without these homes, far too many young women will be out in the cold, pregnant and alone. It doesn’t have to be this way, nor should it. Why in a country as wealthy as ours should any girl who wants help be denied? It’s not just up to our government, it’s up to us be part of the solution. Help babies like Madison have a chance to live the lives they deserve. For more information about Bethany House, visit: www.bethanyhousenet.org or email: email@example.com,
One thing Bethany House is never in shortage of is laughter. The never-ending, crazy-kid-antics are a continual source of genuine smiles and laughter for anyone who happens upon their inopportune performances. Yes, performances! Whether they are aware of it or not, the fact remains, children have a special way of “performing” and providing us grownups with fresh comedy routines on a regular basis.
Thus far, this Blog has focussed on some very sensitive and heavy subjects, so it’s about time we have a gut-level, belly-aching laugh. What do you say? The following story was sent to me by a dear friend. I couldn’t wait to share it with, well, with EVERYONE.
Embarrassing Mommy Moment (Major understatement)
If you’ve had children, or taken care of them, this is hilarious!!!A 3 year old tells all from his mother’s restroom stall – By Shannon Popkin (free-lance writer from Grand Rapids, MI.)
My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we’re in the library, the grocery store or at a drive~thru window. People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just turned 3 year old, and you never have to ask him to turn up the volume; it’s always fully cranked….
There have been several embarrassing times that I’ve wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not so audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco. Halfway through our shopping
trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom….
If you’d been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to last stall… ‘Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on da toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?’
At this point, I started mentally counting how many women had been in the restroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full. 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity…. Cade continued, ‘Mommy, you ARE going stinkies, aren’t you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh, Mommy! I’m trying to see in dere. Oh, I see
dem! Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You ARE gonna get some candy!’ I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming new born when you need one? Good grief. This was really getting
embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting….
Trying to divert him, I said, ‘Why don’t you look in Mommy’s purse and see if you can find some candy. We’ll both have some. ‘No, I’m trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!’ He started to gag at this point. ‘Uh oh, Mommy.
I fink I’m gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!! As the gags became louder so did the chuckles outside my stall….
I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself: Okay, there are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone. ‘Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done doing stinkies! Get up! Get up!’ He grunted as he tried to pull me.
Now I could hear full-blown laughter…. I bent down to count the feet outside my door. ‘Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under da door? What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at da wady’s feet?’ More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation. ‘Mommy, it’s time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy.’ He started pounding on the door. ‘Mommy, don’t you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!’
I saw that my ‘wait ’em out’ plan was unraveling. I sheepishly opened the door, and found, standing outside my stall, twenty to thirty ladies crowded around the stall, all smiling and starting to applaud. My first thought was
complete embarrassment, then I thought, ‘Where’s the fine print on the motherhood contract’ where I signed away every bit of my dignity and privacy?’ But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap
between his chubby little hands, I thought, ‘I’d sign it all away again, just to be known as ‘Mommy’ to this little fellow.’
***Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she no longer uses public rest-rooms with her 3 year old in tow….
For far too many women, both young and old, Valentines Day is not the celebration of love that it should be. For some, February 14 is just another sour reminder of how far they’ve fallen from the hopes and dreams of what love might have been in a different time, different place, and with a very different person.
Are you in an abusive relationship? If so, maybe this February 14 can become your doorway to freedom. Consider the following information:
Signs of an Abusive Relationships http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/relationships/abuse.html
Important warning signs that you may be involved in an abusive relationship include when someone:
- harms you physically in any way, including slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching
- tries to control different aspects of your life, such as how you dress, who you hang out with, and what you say
- frequently humiliates you or making you feel unworthy (for example, if a partner puts you down but tells you that he or she loves you)
- coerces or threatens to harm you, or self-harm, if you leave the relationship
- twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for your partner’s actions
- demands to know where you are at all times
- constantly becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
Unwanted sexual advances that make you uncomfortable are also red flags that the relationship needs to focus more on respect. When someone says stuff like “If you loved me, you would . . . ” that’s also a warning of possible abuse. A statement like this is controlling and is used by people who are only concerned about getting what they want — not caring about what you want. Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Signs That a Friend Is Being Abused
In addition to the signs listed above, here are some signs a friend might be being abused by a partner:
- unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains, or marks
- excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
- secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
- avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don’t seem to make any sense
A person who is being abused needs someone to hear and believe him or her. Maybe your friend is afraid to tell a parent because that will bring pressure to end the relationship. People who are abused often feel like it’s their fault — that they “asked for it” or that they don’t deserve any better. But abuse is never deserved. Help your friend understand that it is not his or her fault. Your friend is not a bad person. The person who is being abusive has a serious problem and needs professional help.
A friend who is being abused needs your patience, love, and understanding. Your friend also needs your encouragement to get help immediately from an adult, such as a parent or guidance counselor. Most of all, your friend needs you to listen without judging. It takes a lot of courage to admit being abused; let your friend know that you’re offering your full support.
Although the above information is geared toward a teenager, it is valid for adults as well. Finding a safe person to share the secret with is a must. A majority of the young women who come and find a safe refuge at Bethany House have experienced abusive and traumatic relationships, too. Rebuilding a life after an abusive relationship is challenging, but possible.
When “Jane” shared the following story, I was heartbroken:
“Tom took me on a drive to the beach. He’d been doing meth and hadn’t slept for days. He kept talking about how he wanted to kill me. I knew how violent he could be, and I was scared for my life. I just sat quietly hoping to keep him from finding any more reasons to be mad at me. We drove up a winding dirt road far into the coastal mountains. My terror grew as we drove futher and further away from the main roads. He led me to a cliff and forced me to look over. He told me if I ever tried to leave him this is where I’d end up. He also told me no one would care because I was a worthless piece of sh…; I thought I was going to die that evening. Amazingly, God had another plan for me. Dying that night wasn’t part of it.”
Friend, if you are reading this right now, and are suffering in an abusive relationship, I know God led you to this journal. Please, seek help now. Don’t wait. Had “Jane” continued in that relationship, I have a horrible suspician that we would have never met. Her pregnancy served as a “wake up call” for her. Today, she is raising her two children and is still free from that violent and degrading relationship.
There are many resources in your community that can help, including a national abuse hotline
that can get your pointed in the right direction. If you are pregnant and seeking help, contact Bethany House. If we are unable to help, we will provide you with resources that can. Don’t wait. You deserve love.
You’re lovable and worthy.
Remember that old Robert Palmer video Addicted to Love? There were several svelte women staring blankly ahead as they danced in place to these revealing lyrics: “You might as well face it your addicted to love.”
Between their blank stares accentuated by an over-abundance of eye-makeup, these pasty-pale beauties appeared to have entered another zone. Maybe the “love addicted” zone? After all, I’ve learned over the years that there is indeed such a place and it’s none to pretty.
In the last entry, I mentioned a Bethany House resident who came to us not only hungry but ravenous for love. Unfortunately, like most love addicts, she had compromised everything including her body, mind, and spirit all in the ellusive search for love, love that she attempted to find in all the wrong places. Unable to imagine her life without a man or relationship, she struggled for months as she attempted to adjust to the Bethany House program. After all, while living safetly within the care of her new residence, she was not permitted to seek the “relationship fixes” that she had so readily sought on her own.
I’m very familiar with this process of pain — the feeling that you must have love and acceptance at all costs — no matter what the consequence. Back in the day, when I, too, was singing the above theme song, I spent countless hours focussed on the current object/s of my attention (affection).
This time period (goodness, I make it sound like I’m 90 years old) was well before the caller ID phones we are now privvy to. I remember lunging for the phone in hopes that the caller would be HIM … the man of the moment. After all, my moods were attached to what was going on in my relationship. If all was well with “us” then all was seemingly well in my upside-down-world.
Many of the women who come to Bethany House have only recently let go of their drug addiction, love addiction, and the so-called freedom to do whatever whenever they so choose. Suddenly, they are surrounded by healthy love that includes boundaries and limits on behavior. And quite frankly, these new changes, although better, create a deep void in the lives of the women. Some may wonder, is there hope? I can answer with assurance that there is indeed a hope and future for any woman who truly seeks it.
I just realized, after looking back at these journal entries that most of them are very serious. Now granted, teen pregnancy, addiction, and abuse are serious topics, but Bethany House is also about fun. Helping these young girls discover how to have wholesome fun is a process in itself. After all, how can they possibly play with their children if life is all about deep personal, emotional, and spiritual work alone. There is a time for taking a breather and just learning how to have fun.
For Christmas, Founder and Director, Beth Rhinehart did special things for each woman. One new mom, now enrolled in an intensive GED/career development course, got to go shopping with Beth. I’m telling you, when Kristi first arrived at Bethany House, shopping with the primary authority figure would not have sounded like much fun at all. But these two hit the mall like to teenagers on a quest. Together, they shopped till they dropped and returned with a whole new type of attire for Kristi. No more short shorts, low cut tops, and super high heels. What happens for these girls is amazing. As their insides (belief systems) change, their appearances often make a 190 degree turn. Fun takes on a new face. Where before partying and racing around with some maniac of a man might have equaled a good time, they are now discovering that simple friendships and “everyday” activities can be and are fun.
Helping these former love addicts transfer their affection to God and a healthy support system is a process that produces miraculous results. Talk about someone becoming a new creation before your eyes. The caterpillar to butterfly story applies perfectly. I’ve seen quite a few butterflies take flight over the past several years. What an incredible sight!
Forget the blank stares! These women have traded their hurts for hope and their fears for friendship, tears for laughter, and lies for the truth.
Maybe, you, too, find yourself getting excited about the changes that are happening at Bethany House. If so, check out the official website — www.bethanyhousenet.org. We’re always looking for new friends to partner with us in this life-saving process. Watching a newly developed butterfly spread its wings is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Just recently, the issue of teen pregnancy has come to the forefront. Jamie Lynn Spears, younger sister of infamous Britney Spears, has admitted that she is indeed expecting at sixteen. (Photo not of Spears) In addiction to her revelation, People Magazine has an insightful spread this month about young, single moms. However, these women, including Jamie Lynn, all appear to have family support and financial assistance, not something most girls or young women have in this circumstance.
What can we do to help? Do we even care? Hopefully, if you’re visiting this journal you, too, care about life and the issues that single pregnant women of any age face. The fear, anger, hopelessness, and seed of hope are all present. After all, we were designed to give life. It is only natural for women, no matter what the circumstances to feel a sense of anticipation about having a baby. However, when there are horrific circumstances and resources seem nonexistent, that hope can be difficult to identify. It is usually buried deep beneath other more tumultuous emotions.
My hope is that all the press surrounding Ms. Spears will bring to light the tragedy of unsupported pregnant women. Becoming a mother even for a married woman is challenging and frightening. For a woman who hasn’t completed high school it can be downright terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
I’m so passionate about these women. So is Bethany House. That’s why for the past 17-plus years they’ve continued to do what they do best … touch two lives at a time with God’s love and provided the needed support and resources to turn a nightmare into a dream.
Consider the story of Susan* who came to live at Bethany House last year. Susan is what I would definitely refer to as a “love addict.” The following description of a “love addict” will shed some light on this dilemma:
A person addicted to love is fully absorbed in the pursuit of love, because love is the greatest need. The desire to be loved can push women into perfectionism, sexual promiscuity, and unhealthy relationships. Love is desired, demanded, and pursued at all costs. The price, many times, turns into a compromise of moral values and a devaluing of the person who pursues this addiction. Having affairs, or being in one relationship after another to fill the emptiness, can become a pattern. Fantasizing can fuel the obsession to escape from painful realities into a world where the illusion of LOVE exists.
In future entries, I will provide additional information and stories of this addiction to love and approval that countless women struggle with. It’s real and it hurts.
Our Susan was not only addicted to attention from men, she was using meth and alcohol on a regular basis and in a relationship with someone much older. Searching for a “father figure” is very common in young women. I discovered that over 70% of the women at Bethany House were involved with older men, sometimes much older. This is a cycle that must be broken for the girls to become confident women and successful mothers.
Susan, like others addicted to relationships and the rollercoaster of emotions that they provide, became very bored when she first came to Bethany House. There was no crisis to get caught up in. So, like others before her, Susan began to create one crisis after another. Her need for constant attention and affirmation drove her to become so needy that it was, honestly, difficult to be around her. This is where lots of love and prayers, combined with solid professional training, and a professional, team-driven staff came into play. Together, the Bethany House team worked to provide a balance of love and boundaries.
TO BE CONTINUED …
To learn more about what happened to this young woman, check back. We will continue with her story and more information about the pitfalls of love and sexual addiction.
* name changed for confidentiality
To learn more about the Jamie Lynn Spears story, visit: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1576746/20071218/spears_britney.jhtml
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I can’t believe 2008 has arrived. Another year. Another opportunity to help wounded women discover hope, healing, and a brand new beginning. With Christmas, we celebrated the amazing gift of Jesus’ arrival into our world. His “new beginning” makes all others possible.
His hope for a better tomorrow is reflected when we reach out and love others. When we give rather than receive. When we care instead of condemn. This is what happened for Tina, the lovely young woman in the above Christmas photo. The baby? that’s her little guy, Daniel. Yes, he’s a quarter pounder alright! Football? We’ll have to wait and watch.
Anyhow, when Tina came to Bethany House she had nothing material. I mean other than the clothes on her back, a handful of broken relationships, and a sense of utter isolation, fear, and hopelessness, Tina had nothing much but a miniscule seed of hope that maybe, just maybe, she could build a new life for the child growing within her. Thankfully, that seed of hope was the most important thing she could have possibly had under the trying circumstances.
Like all single, pregnant women, Tina had struggled with the — “Oh no. I’m pregnant. What am I going to do?” — questions. I say all because it’s been my experience working with moms-to-be that questions like this are just part of the process. I know they were for me. Yes, I, too, was and am a single mother. The obstacles were many. The challenges sometimes overwhelming (goodness, sometimes they still are) but the bottom line remains that with God’s help, and the love and support of others, parenting can be the greatest joy of all.
Bethany House helps women overcome the stigma of being “a single mom” and encourages them to instead embrace new ideas that can help change a lifetime of false beliefs and painful memories.
One local church family decided to bless Tina and her little (big) guy this Christmas with an array of needed supplies and just-for-fun gifts. I suspect you can see the pleasure on her face. Tina has never been a woman to take “hand outs.” In fact, she has great difficulty asking for help. So many of these girls want to be independent. They want to do it (life) on their own. However, sadly, for most of the women we’ve worked with that cling to that false ideal, the future is bleak. We weren’t created to do this motherhood/parenting thing all alone. Unfortunately, in today’s world, single parenting has become just a way of life. Lacking resources, supportive family, healthy friendships, and positive role models, many young women traipse into what seems like the wilderness of parenting.
Thankfully, with programs like Bethany House and other related maternity programs, women like Tina can learn to accept help and understand that pride is the wall that will keep the desperately needed help away. It’s okay to say, “Hey, I don’t have a clue what to do. I didn’t have a good role model from my mother. The baby’s dad, well, he’s not making good choices. I need help.” HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nope, no shame in that word!
I need help are the three words that successful parents are not afraid to speak. For it is in those three words rests the opportunity for others to say, “I love you and want to help.”
Although, Christmas has passed. Is there a young mom that needs your support? Have you ever considered donating time, talents, or maybe even your “treasure” (yes, money) to a program that helps others find new beginnings? Why not give it a try in 2008. You’ll be surprised by the results.
Tis the Season for bright New Beginnings. Let’s help shine the light of hope through another’s darkness.
If you’d like to check out an article on New Beginnings click here:
I adore this wonderful poem. I would love to give credit to the author, but I have no idea who wrote this piece. If it was you, please let me know so I can post your byline. Enjoy!
Before I was a mom…
Before I was a Mom
I made and ate hot meals.
I had unstained clothing.
I had quiet conversations on the phone.
Before I was a Mom,
I slept as late as I wanted
and never worried abot how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
Before I was a Mom,
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words of lullabies.
Before I was a Mom,
I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on
Or pinched by tiny fingers.
Before I was a mom,
I had complete control (most of time) of:
And my mind
I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so that doctors could do tests
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
when I couldnt stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love somone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a Mom,
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn’t know that bond between a Mother and her child.
I didn’t know that something so small
could make me feel so important.
Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure
all was okay.
I had never known the warmth
Or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.
Even though the women at Bethany House didn’t choose their circumstances, they have chosen life. Once that adorable creation enters the world, their world, all things will forever be changed. Thank fully, there are places like Bethany House to help these first-time moms learn and grow. However, the truth remains … motherhood is a miracle experienced differently by every woman. Helping a woman embrace her role as a “mom,” “mommy,” and “mother,” is an experience not to be missed.