The moment in time that I first knew God was calling me to be a pro-life speaker is clearly etched into my memory. It occurred in October just over four years ago when I was in my home state of Virginia, at a pregnancy resource center fundraiser banquet with my grandmother.
Unbeknownst to anyone around me, I was 18 weeks pregnant with my daughter Lily and I had recently been informed conclusively that she was a girl, though I already knew in my heart that she was. At age 19, in February of that same year, at six weeks gestation, I had an abortion. Afterwards, due to my broken heart, I found myself in a deep pit of chaos and despair, as my devastated life spiraled further out of control. Within a few months time, I ended up pregnant out of wedlock … again. I was close to choosing abortion a second time within a year, when God turned my world upside down by using the life of my precious unborn child to bring me back to Him.
As I listened to the keynote speaker address the crowd that October night in Virginia, God clearly spoke something beautiful to my heart. He showed me that in the future, as a keynote speaker, I would be sharing my story of LIFE and redemption, as I addressed audiences at pregnancy resource center banquets. He was cultivating a passion and purpose within me that I never could have imagined on my own. I could not hold back the tears of joy that flowed freely as I thought of how God had completely rearranged my heart and future through my sweet girl growing in my womb.
I knew in the deepest parts of me that I had a special calling on my life to be a voice for the unborn, those facing unplanned pregnancies, and post-abortive men and women in a very public way. Little did I know the sad turn my story would take and that it would require of me to say goodbye to my Lily Katherine before she ever took her first breath. On March 16th, 2010, I arrived with great joy at the birthing center where I fully expected to deliver my healthy full-term daughter. Instead I was given the news that her strong little heart was no longer beating. (You can read more of my story on my blog at www.roseandherlily.com). In my joyful imaginings, I had pictured myself standing in front of audiences, with a beautiful little girl by my side. Yes, the lovely outcome I had counted on disappeared with Lily’s early death, but my story is even more beautiful than I had dreamed – my calling the same. As long as I am alive, I will share the lives and legacies of my two babies who never spoke a word or took a single breath. A legacy of how each life is precious, valuable, and irreplaceable. A legacy of how God brings beauty from ashes and restores the most broken of hearts.
Glancing around at the banquet attendees that night, I recollect thinking about how, although they saw me, none of them had any idea about my little one growing quietly within me, in her secret place. Having already named my developing babe Lily, I smiled as my happy eyes encountered lilies in the centerpiece of each table. I brought one of those lovely white lilies home with me to dry and it remains in Lily’s memory chest to this day. Even though nobody around me knew about my Lily, God knew. He knew her from the beginning of time and loves her more than even I. And He was giving me a hope and promise for my eternal future through my little Lily. The lilies in each centerpiece were a symbol of this.
I knew the plan God had for my life. It was all in His time, will, and way because only He knew when my broken heart would be healed enough to share what He had wrought in my life.
This fall, 2013, was my first season of speaking at pregnancy center fundraiser banquets. Four years of waiting on Him since He first whispered His plan for me to become a speaker.
In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined I would be called to be a speaker. After all, it doesn’t come naturally to me. As an introvert, I do not find it particularly comfortable to be standing in front of a crowd, all eyes on me, especially speaking on a topic so raw and personal. Yet another reason I know this is God’s plan: it’s not about protecting my reputation. It’s about His glory being proclaimed. My passion is so intense there is no way I can deny sharing it with others. It’s like a fire burning within. The Lord chooses the weakest and least likely among us to be a testimony to His strength.
After four years, here we are. I have spoken at a number of varying venues, but there’s just something uniquely special about speaking at pregnancy center banquets. That is where I was when I received the initial spark of God’s plan for me.
After having an abortion at the age of 19, and not wanting anyone to discover that dark secret from my past; becoming pregnant a second time out of wedlock and losing that baby to untimely death; to now traveling the country as a voice for my precious children of Heaven. Whew! God allows us to follow our own directions, but when we get to the end of our selfish meanderings, we are precisely where He planned for us to be. I’ve heard before that God takes our mess and makes it our message. He takes our pain and makes it our purpose. How thankful I am to be right where He wants me.
When I speak, it’s almost as if I can hear my two babes in Heaven, Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine, cheering me on … Mommy, we’re so proud of you for being our voice.
Pro-life warriors: God is raising up men and women, just like you, to be champions for LIFE every day, right where you are. He moves in breathtaking, unexpected ways, for His ways are not our ways. Being in pro-life ministry can sometimes feel discouraging as if we are not truly making an impact. But, He has a glorious plan and purpose unfolding right before us. Take courage in how God has changed my life. If your heart is open to His leading, He will use you. He is looking for those who are willing to spend their lives for the least of these … for the precious ones without a voice … for His glory. Keep praying. Keep fighting. Keep hoping. The battle for LIFE is worth it.