Feb 18, 2012

Saturday SHINE...

Happy Saturday, SHINE girls! No weekend reading, so use this time to catch up on the blog and with your reading.

Our fellow friend and SHINE girl, Mary, is sharing her story with us today. After reading the testimonies of Leslie and Samantha this week, she felt the Holy Spirit nudging her to share.

Be blessed by her story, girls.

I feel strongly compelled to stand with Samantha and Leslie because I have a God story, too (just like you).  Like them, my story doesn't come wrapped in a pretty bow with hearts and smiley faces...it was ugly and I struggled with shame for years.  

Thankfully, our loving God persuaded me that it was really beautiful, not because of anything I did or didn’t do, but because salvation happened as a result.  He literally gave me beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  Thank you, Lord.

Here's my story - - written for the first time almost 3 years ago and being shared again today.  Be blessed friends.  He loves you so.  <3


May 2009
On being lost.

Last Saturday afternoon, Sloane and I set out for what I expected to be a 45 minute jaunt to Fayetteville for Michelle's baby girl's first birthday party.

We weren't missing this celebration and thankfully I had that mindset because before I knew it, we were more lost than I've ever been. I had 2 sets of google directions from my house to the destination (Michelle's mother-in-law's) and neither of them were any good. I couldn't get Michelle on her cell phone and no one answered at the party.

Sloane encouraged me for the 2 hours that we drove around Fayetteville trying to find the party. She said, "it's ok, Mom - we're not lost". Thank you, Honey - - but we totally are. I have a decent sense of direction (usually) but this time was different, that city is like a maze and I couldn't make heads or tails of it to save my life.

The rainstorm came, my wipers were on high speed and not even able to keep up with all the water that was washing over my windshield. I pressed on and heard a whisper in my spirit, "you've been this lost before, it's just been a while". Whoa. . . I totally have.

My mind went back to that time in my life (over 10 years ago) when I couldn't seem to make even one wise choice for myself. I was stuck in a dead-end relationship for 4 long years. He treated me terribly, my parents didn't approve, I lied to them to keep seeing him and clung to this man in a rebellious tailspin. Finally, I had enough of the poison and said goodbye once and for all.

Not long after our break, I met some co-workers in Virginia Highlands for happy hour. Unfortunately, I had a few too many martini's and instead of driving back to Conyers, I drove to his place and slept over. . .

The next morning, I was mad at myself, another bad choice - I had officially "quit" him, or so I thought and then the walk of shame back to my car. Uggghhhh. I made sure that he knew it was still over and also apologized for coming back to be with him, when I really knew much better.

Several weeks later, I stood in the bathroom and stared at a pregnancy test that was beaming POSITIVE. Oh my God, what have I done??? Everyone, I talked to said the same thing, "you can't go through with this" - "your parents will kill you" - "you're too young, you can't raise a baby" - "you have to terminate the pregnancy".

I felt they were right. I picked up the phone and called him, explained my predicament and told him that I needed the money for an abortion. He agreed to my request.

There were a few lone encourager's who spoke up for this life in my womb, but I tried to blot out their words and do what I felt like was best for me. Only, I was still the daughter of a pro-life activist, I knew better, way better.

Nonetheless, I made an appointment at the Feminist Women's Health Center in midtown, hoping to be prescribed the RU486 pill that would cause me to miscarry and subsequently abort my unwanted baby. I'll never forget how I felt walking into that place a few days later - completely out of place as I quickly noticed I was the minority. Not a single other girl looked like me in the crammed waiting room. I knew that I didn't belong here, those words kept ringing in my head. I blocked out that still, small voice and hurriedly completed my paperwork. All I wanted was to talk to someone who could "help".

Finally, they called my name; I bolted from my seat to a patient room. A woman came in to discuss my options. She told me I was a candidate for the pill (that would solve my problem), but that I had to have an ultrasound before they could administer the pill. Sounded strange to me, but I complied.

To another room I went, where a giant woman with long braids waited for me to mount the table, no words from her mouth, she just motioned and pointed to my spot. I laid there as she moved her wand and probed around to see the life inside of me. She never smiled, she didn't try to connect and her screen was turned away from me. As I looked up at the blank ceiling, feeling unbelievably lost and alone - I thought what a miserable job she had and that I'd be unhappy, too.

After a few minutes she looked at me and said, the fetus isn't big enough. . . you're definitely pregnant but you aren't far enough along to take the pill to miscarry. Huh? I have to be more pregnant to get un-pregnant? I felt like a giant question mark, sitting there, not believing my ears. As I gathered my things, all I could think was that this was the most inhumane thing I'd ever heard. They told me to come back in 2 weeks, they'd do another ultrasound and I'd be able to take the pill when the fetus had grown.

I walked out of that place feeling like I had just left a horror house. I was speed walking to my car and as I crossed 14th street, I uttered these words out loud -
"I have no idea what I'm going to do, but I do know, I'm never coming back here again."
Still amazed at the idea of needing to be further along to terminate this life, I drove away feeling dirty, disgusted and sorry for accepting this "out". I called the father and told him we were having the baby after all. He was thrilled with my decision and I tried to imagine myself with him, co-parents together. Somehow, mustering an ounce of maternal joy and knowing that I'd always wanted to be a mother - just not exactly like this.

The following week, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN. I went in and had all the new mommy testing. They encouraged me and told me that I was making the better choice, my heart was warming up to the idea.

That weekend we went to North Carolina to tell his family that we were going to have a baby. They were also thrilled, everyone hugged us and cheered . . .but for me, it still felt like a dream. I wasn't really, this isn't really, is it? We drove back to Atlanta as a somewhat united front. It was good for us to get away and also good to hear excitement; I was on-board but still wondering how on earth I'd ever tell my parents.

The following Tuesday my belly began to cramp like never before. I wondered why I felt so bad and soon discovered the answer. I was losing the baby that I had just begun to want. I went in to see my doctor and after testing my levels, they said that my progesterone level had dropped dramatically and the pregnancy was lost as a result. Interestingly, this is exactly the same result you have when taking the RU486 pill. Your level drops and you begin to lose the baby.

I believe that God delivered me.  (That’s an actual quote from my Aunt Carole who walked through this whole valley right along with me.  She knew every detail and she loved me anyway, encouraged me to make better choices and never stopped praying for me to find my way back to Him.) At the time, I was so out of God's will and his plan for me that I couldn't even see that immediately, but over time his plan was revealed. 

The sad part of the story is that undoubtedly, if they could have given me the pill that day in midtown, I surely would have choked it down. . .never knowing the deliverance that would be mine.  Many women do not have the same deliverance, they didn't have to come back for a follow-up ultrasound. They didn't have more time to consider their other options. . .No, their need was met on the spot, the termination was immediate and I'm sure the heartache began soon after.

I believe there is no difference between us. . .we both made a choice and it wasn't for life. Thankfully, there is enough grace and mercy through Christ to cover all of us.

I rest in the comfort of these words from:

Romans 8:38-39
(New Living Translation)
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you have found yourself in my shoes, forgiveness can be yours. Trust me. All you have to do is ask, He's waiting to lavish unfathomable grace, if you'll just go there, to His feet and ask. 

If you're wondering how in the world I ever shared such a story, please know that I had no choice. Sometimes, God uses our skeletons for His Glory and I sort of feel like this is His Story, not mine.

I shared it a few weeks ago with my sister-in-law, Sherri and she was amazed at not just this but the salvation that became mine over the weeks and months following. I came to know a God who loved me, in spite of not measuring up and my faith became about a relationship with Him - instead of the long list of rules I'd always been taught, that I could never follow. I had to know Him intimately. And I believe that He met me right where I was at, even in an unlikely clinic. Now, I can confidently proclaim, that I have a relationship with Christ and that's where salvation happened for me.

Sherri really encouraged me to be more open about it and share it with women who could identify, who had been there or possibly know someone who has and hopefully to women who haven't been there but could find themselves in the same situation. . .this is my offering.

Exodus 25: 1-2
The Offerings - God spoke to Moses:  "Tell the Israelites that they are to set aside offerings for me. Receive the offerings from everyone who is willing to give."
And, we finally found that birthday party in Fayetteville. It took forever to get there (almost 3 hours) but it was worth it…so worth it.

The Balicki Family

Mary and sweet Gabby girl.  <3
Gabby, Audrey and Sloane  :)

Fast forward to modern day, God has made me a wife and a mother in his own time and I truly have no greater joy.  These girls are like light and life to me.  So thankful that He gave me beauty for ashes and taught me what knowing Him really looks like.  I love the promise of heaven someday but I need Jesus TODAY.  He walks with me and talks with me.  There is nothing better than knowing Jesus.  I pray that you’ll reach out and grasp that same salvation.  He’s waiting for that call, no matter where you are, I promise.  

Bless you, SHINE sisters.  


Jill said...

Thank you, Mary!! So blessed by you and your friendship! May God use your story to bless others in a big way! <3

Lisa said...

[tears on face] Oh Mary I love you so much. Thank you for sharing your very personal story, all to bring glory to the ONE who gives you light. This is what it's about sista! xoxo.

Jamie said...

Mary. You are so beautiful and have such a beautiful family. I remember being in grad school and my roommate took a friend to a clinic. Then she brought the girl back to our house to recover from the abortion. I can never forget how that young women looked. She has always been in my prayers to this day -- i had never seen her before and never saw her again, We all were so young. I think that's the fallacy put out by media. That it's the easy way out. I'm so glad for you -- like you said the Lord delivered you that day and you walked out that clinic door. Thank you for sharing. And God's continued blessings in yur life.

Women Who Pray said...

Wow, Mary, baby...just WOW!! You do have a story to tell to the Nations! I had no idea that we had babies in Heaven...playing together...and with Baba and PawPaw. How precious is Carole..the one who always thinks she's not quite as smart...or doesn't do things as well..and yet she is such a blessed blessed woman with many grands...and nephews and nieces...both here and in Heaven!

How protective Carole was of me after I lost George...he was 20 weeks in my womb...and weighed a pound. Your Mom was the one who ran to me and held me in her arms as I passed out...passing the baby...tears in my eyes.

Carol was so sorry that she had not taken Timothy with her...but had she, I wouldn't have had anyone there to call Baba and your Mom and Tim...what a trooper he was! Beth had Ted, I think..can't quite remember...

Carole had taken me to hospital the day before...and walked all over Ga. Baptist Hospital with me..as my uterus was tight and in a continued contraction...

So much about Carole because she has been such a woman of strength for both of us...and you Mom and Beth...she just doesn't know how precious she is to us just for being herself.

None of us do..really...do we?

It was Carole who brought life out of the death of that baby boy...

She protected me from seeing the pictures ...of aborted babies...she is the one who went to the first meetings with Gwen Metzger and Katherine Dunnaway!

When she took me to the 1st meeting of STOP ERA, and we became pro-life...that was sooo wonderful!!! It was the beginning of what later became MOM!! Mothers on the March!!!

Carole was such a pro-life activist...and she got her sisters involved...Gloria made sure we were all saved...and it was at a revival at Rehobeth that all 3 of us made sure we were saved!! We have the same spiritual birthday...March 9th and Carole calls and reminds me every year!!

I have friends who've had abortions...and praise God for what God has done in their lives...saved..washed clean and into service!

I have friends who've lost babies...in the womb...and in the arms...and family!

Children are a heritage of the LORD! How blessed we are all with the fruit of our wombs!! Glory!

Jesus loves the children so!! I love the account in Heaven is for Real...the emphasis placed on how God loves the children...

I stand daily on the wall declaring the right to life of the unborn citizens in this Nation...

I cannot vote for a man who stands for abortion! and with a nation like China that aborts like 3500 babies per day...and 500 women a day commit suicide..Paul liberated women as he preached to the churches that in Christ there's no male or female.

I love you girl!! I am so pleasantly surprised to see my girl with such maturity! You are loved by me, sweetie...all the days of our lives here...and into eternity!

Love you much!

Aunt Teddi

Samantha said...

Mary - THANK YOU for sharing - what amazing courage that took!

I am going to share your story with some I know it will encourage. Choices we have made in the past are sometimes haunting. But like you said thankfully, there is enough grace and mercy through Christ to cover all of us.

Much love!!

Anonymous said...

I love you Mary! And I love how He carries us and is with us through the good times and the not so good times. The love of our heavenly Father is like that of no other. I, too, know what it is like to have had Him watching over me when I went through valleys I shouldn't have been in. Thank you for sharing, and I know He is happy you shared too! :) I love how He was watching over you, and still is! He had His eye on the sparrow. Love, Sarah

Kate Wicker said...

Every single one of the "Shine spotlights" has touched me deeply to the core. Thank you to all of you for having the courage to share your stories of redemption and hope.

Abortion has obviously been in the news a lot recently due to the HHS mandate and Komen debacle, and something that continues to strike me is how so many feminists argue that being pro-choice is about being pro-women. Yet, what drives the abortion industry is the message to women from all walks of life is that they don't have what it takes to be a mother. You're too young. You're not married. You're too career-driven. You're too poor. There's an out for you. We sell "abortion" as giving women freedom, but what it really does is degrades women and robs them of their innate, God-given dignity and gift to bring forth new life and to co-create with the Artist of Artists.

Mary, you are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your testimony. God bless you and all those who are sharing their rough edges that God is smoothing out every day. The Body of Christ is a beautiful, powerful thing.


tablerbunch said...

Amazing. Thank you for sharing!

Tracey said...

I love you Mary!

Anonymous said...

Mary....that is so beautiful! I am...I cannot even articulate what I am! THANK YOU for sharing!

I had a friend in college who had an abortion and, to be honest, I do not think she has moved past it to this day! Like Jamie said, the look on her face when she returned......will be burned into my memory forever! I thought to myself at that moment how thankful I was that I had not been faced with that choice and I decided that if I was ever in a position to decide between abortion or baby.....I would choose baby!

God never intended for us to make such a choice as it his to make! But I also know that for those who have had choose abortion, God is willing to forgive and heal them as well!

So proud of you for taking the harder road and then sharing it for the world to see!!

As I read some of these wonderful testimonies...it is becoming clear that we are all more alike than I had once thought!

I used to think I was "damaged goods" and not worthy. I would gravitate towards people who I felt "comfortable" around.

Unfortunately, these people never had my best interest at heart!

Through this I am seeing that there are many, who like me, have made some tough decisions....or not so smart decisions.....or decisions that would be regretted....but in the end God can deliver us!

Praise God!

Thank you again for sharing! An amazing testimony!

Kim J

Rebekah Hudgins Vepraskas said...

I love you, Mare. So thankful that he found you and you were so willing to follow and never looked back. :)
Amazing Grace.

The Parker Family said...

Poweful and beautiful Mary! Love you!