Archives for Chelsey

The Ticket


I love to share the story of me and my husband’s very first Valentine’s Day as a couple. When Don and I were first dating, country music was a big part of who we were. We’d spend time in the car singing our hearts out to Rascal Flatts or dancing in the park to My Maria by Brooks & Dunn. Just thinking about those days make my heart happy. So, on our first Valentine’s Day, I was giddy at the thought of surprising him with tickets to the Brooks & Dunn Red Dirt Road Concert and the memories we’d have of the evening together.

When the day of the concert finally arrived, we were both so excited. Not once did we consider where our seats might be. But when we got there and the usher stopped at the steep staircase directing, “All the way up,” I looked up and realized the limitations of my checkbook. The only seats I could afford were a trek up to the second to last row of the stadium. I felt bad, my special gift felt minimized and not so special anymore. However, Don was encouraging and joyful. Just happy to be with me.

So as we sat there chatting and snacking, watching and waiting for the stadium to fill up, we noticed a young man coming up the stairs. He was looking at us. He finally reached us, and sat down on the stairs next to Don. He breathlessly exclaimed, “Boy, we are quite a ways up, aren’t we?!” We both smiled and engaged in conversation about the nosebleed section we now found ourselves at home in. The man then paused and looked at us. He introduced himself as a local country music radio announcer and said, “How would you two like to go from the worst seats in the house to the best seats in the house?” He immediately handed us two front row, center tickets! Seriously, one of the coolest moments. The promise of what awaited us was more than we could contain. We were giddy, joyful, exuberant and expectant.

This story, for me, runs parallel with God’s promises.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” Isaiah 55:8a, 9

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy sage pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desire of your heart.” Psalm 37: 3-4

“He gives strength to the weary and increases power to the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

These are just a few of the many promises made to us by God. You might be feeling disappointment, frustration, loss, brokenness, hurt, sadness or anger. But God promises He has a plan for good. His ways are not our ways. He cares for you. He will give you the desire of your heart. His strength increases our power. He will fight for you. He will create a path. Believing in his promises IS the ticket to that front row seat. When we believe and begin to live by his promises and precepts the world around us changes. When our heart knows these promises are true, we are giddy, joyful, exuberant, expectant and hopeful, even in times of great sorrow, pain and loss.

Here’s the kicker…everyone has a ticket! He’s offering it to everyone, not just me and not just that lady over there. YOU get one, too. You may not have planned to be where you are and maybe you’ve made yourself comfortable there, but what if someone said, “How would you like to go from the worst seats in the house, to the best seats in the house?” Jesus, that’s your ticket.

Father, my gratefulness for your promises overflow. You have surely taken me from the worst seat in the house to the best seat in the house. Even when I didn’t deserve it. Lord, I pray today that anyone reading this feels your love for them deeply and is convicted to pick up a Bible, reach out to a friend, or make plans to attend church on Sunday. Whatever they do, may it bring them closer to you. More accepting of your love, mercy and grace.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Ministry Update


This is the text for a speech given at the 2017 Bridgehaven Fundraising Gala.

Let us open with the scripture from Mark 1 16-18:

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Imagine for me if you will…a sweet young girl who lives next door. You’ve known her for years; her parents moved to the neighborhood when she was three. You’ve seen her grow and blossom into a young woman. But recently you’ve noticed a change. She walks, head down, just wandering. The sparkle in her eye and the spring in her step is gone. You wonder, for a moment, ‘What’s going on?’ You’ve seen a young man coming and going from the house and again you say to yourself, “Mind your own business.” This morning you’re headed out to run an errand, you’re rushing out the door but notice someone sitting on the stoop next door. It’s her. You wonder, “Is she crying?” You are torn. “Do I mind my own business or go to her.” The Lord prompts you, “Go to her, she needs someone.” As you walk up, she notices you and begins to dry and hide her eyes from view. But you know and she knows…everything is NOT ok.

Last week, a woman came in with a young girl. The relationship these two shared was unique, it was dear, protective and supportive. The woman was the young girl’s neighbor and wanted to help her in any way that she could. This neighbor was a fisher of men. This woman was a believer and answered the call of Jesus to walk alongside her young neighbor, who had recently had an abortion; sharing grace, understanding and most importantly Jesus.

“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5:5

There is perhaps no greater experience that we are offered than to see the Holy Spirit do and complete His transformative work inside the hearts of those that come to us with broken hearts. Bridgehaven launched it’s very first-ever Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat last summer and just completed its second retreat this spring. Rachel’s Vineyard is a post-abortion recovery retreat that is founded in living out the Gospel messages, seeking healing and forgiveness for its participants. This life-changing experience can best be described through the words of the men and women…

“Rachel’s Vineyard has helped me to move on with hope. When I met other women who had abortions and had suffered just the same as I had, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. The healing I experienced on the weekend was amazing and is still ongoing.”

“The environment was completely free of condemnation and judgment…I have never felt such acceptance, understanding, and grace. It was incredibly powerful to just be accepted and, for once, be unashamed of who I am.”

Rachel’s Vineyard is now an ongoing program offered through our ministry, and an important step for women who’ve walked the path of regret and shame to healing and grace. Additionally, the Rachel’s Vineyard experience encourages these women, men and families to find their voices and speak out about their experiences in hopes of preventing others from having the same regrets and pain.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

In order to do what we do each and every day, we must love fearlessly! We must see beyond the circumstances in front of us be rooted in the Truth of God’s love and sovereignty over it all. When our Prevention Team tells us that a young man in one of their 8th grade classes talked with his girlfriend about the boundaries of their relationship…we praise Him and say yes, Lord bring us another one. Or when we experience weeks like the last few where an influx of young, very young women, came to us for help and support; 14, 15, 16 and 17, we say, “Lord, go before us, go around us, pace our steps; so that your love is all they see.” Just last week we received an email from the mother of a 13-year-old girl, reaching out for help. Immediately, prayer for this family began. Our hearts are connected to these young people, their families and all those involved in the pregnancy decision at hand.

It’s circumstances like these that God has created Bridgehaven for…God is continuing to guide, mold and shape Bridgehaven to become stronger, bolder and more courageous fishers of men.

Now, I admittedly know close to nothing about fishing. I know…Shocker! I am as girly as they come, but I do know and acknowledge that to be a good fisherman, you must be intentional. Your efforts to fish must be ON PURPOSE. On purpose to increase. On purpose to grow the kingdom of God. Bridgehaven has been assigned a God-sized vision, one in which more is required. More prayer, more intentionality, more reach, more resources, more obedience and more courage. In the past, the pregnancy center movement has been fraught with a caution and fear. Centers were targeted and persecuted, they were forced to pull back in what they said and how they said it. Honestly, in many ways this was a good thing to have happen. We now know exactly what God expects from us as a ministry. It’s helped us to understand the difference between ministry and manipulation and the true meaning of ‘no condemnation, no shame and no judgment.’

But God is on the move in a big way and the time is NOW! There are countless circumstances and scenarios where God has proven his hand on this ministry in big ways. Now is when we must continue our discipline of prayer and draw nearer to Him.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

We are answering the call to this God-sized vision and couldn’t be more excited! 2017 is the start of something new, something life changing…community changing. It starts with a bigger sweep and broader reach of our ministry in all aspects. The question we ask ourselves is…What if the transformational love and power that exists within Bridgehaven were to explode into our community? What if what we’ve seen, experienced and know to be true about what God can and has done within our walls started happening outside our walls? More love, less judgment. More healing and repentance, less shame and condemnation. More talking about and being the hands and feet of Jesus.

For Bridgehaven, this means that we must begin to connect into and reach across the table with people and organizations that think and believe differently than we do. We must not fear working alongside secular or government organizations. God is calling Bridgehaven to come out of its shelter of protection and become a beacon of light within this community; sharing its message of hope to families in our community. To fish with bigger nets and tastier more satisfying bait. What is more satisfying than the promise of God’s love for His children?

Intentional and purposeful partnerships are one way of we have begun to broaden our reach into this community. Tonight we are honored to have representation from our local government in attendance. Their support shows the type of collaboration it will take to begin a transformation of hearts in our community. It starts with the leaders coming together and acknowledging, respecting and honoring one another for the mission and call upon their lives. I want to thank you both for being here this evening; Representative Ashley Hinson and City Council Member Susie Weinacht, would you please stand to be recognized? Thank you for your service to this community.

Another partnership we launched this year is one with HACAP Food Reservoir. This enables us to continue receiving from various organizations in the community, but in addition, provide more quality food items to clients than we’ve ever done before, on a consistent basis. Things like milk, cheese, and a variety of meats. Partnering with another organization took wisdom and intention. Linda Gorkow and her team at HACAP walked us through the decision making process with patience and encouragement for our program. We see a number of possibilities with this partnership and we are excited by what God has and is providing.

So, we have this broader net we are casting with community relationships and partnerships, but we CANNOT forget the daily struggles countless women and families are experiencing. With the annual abortion rate holding steady at approximately 1 million a year, we know there’s more to be done. So, what if more people were equipped to do what we do within the walls of Bridgehaven? What if churches and individuals were prepared and confident in their ability to walk with men, women and families facing a pregnancy decision? What if these women sought refuge and hope in the power of the church.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

God’s Word makes it clear that saving the unborn and caring for their mothers is a central role of the church. When this scripture was written, orphans were children without fathers and widows were mothers without husbands. Today we have cultural orphans and widows. Nearly 9 out of 10 women who have abortions are unmarried. Additionally, recent research has revealed a sad reality about abortion in the church. Our national affiliate CareNet, in partnership with LifeWay, commissioned their own research to check the accuracy of recent data reporting this problem. They found that 4 out of 10 women were regularly attending church at the time of their abortion. In the pews on Sunday and in the abortion clinic on Monday. Furthermore, the research shows that the majority of these women viewed the church as a place they could not even talk about their pregnancy or seek help. They have an abortion, then continue to attend church without anyone knowing.

So what would happen if WE came alongside the church, instead of what it’s looked like for years, the church coming alongside pregnancy centers? This summer Bridgehaven will be launching a new curriculum, a tool to equip people and train first responders within churches to be ready and available to respond to women & men facing a pregnancy decision. Life decisions need life support and who better than the church to use its power to do this work.

This is just the beginning, because from this Church Initiative comes the ability for Bridgehaven to develop a ministry of transformation, not a series of transactions. We do not want to ever become church for our clients and therefore we need to work on this issue in a different way and come alongside the church on their issue rather than the church coming alongside our issue.

Our official launch of the Making Life Disciples curriculum will be held in June and more information will be on our website. Pastors are receiving the information but anyone who is interested in being a part of this ministry within their churches is encouraged to attend.

Finally, in February of this year, Bridgehaven participated in a site study that was conducted by an organization called Pre-born. Pre-Born is a national organization that equips pregnancy centers through three initiatives:

  1. Prayer
  2. Grants for ultrasound machines & nurse training
  3. Onsite Evangelism Training called The Invitation.

During this two day visit, my staff and I were encouraged and affirmed that what God is doing in this place is of Him and for Him. Jan Wright, our Pre-Born representative, was impressed by how much we were able to do and still keep the number one thing the number one thing…Jesus.

With that we are thrilled to announce that Bridgehaven has been approved for a grant with Pre-Born and will receive a newly refurbished Ultrasound Machine this year! This ultrasound machine will replace the used one we acquired when we launched our Ultrasound Services in 2011. Our current machine is completely outdated. We can no longer get replacement parts or maintain the machine. It will provide clearer images and detail for our clients and will include Doppler ability to hear the sound of their little one’s heartbeat.

In addition, we were blessed to host Pre- Born’s Evangelism Training entitled, The Invitation. This training helps pregnancy centers equip their Client Advocates through prayer and process to invite clients into discussions about the Gospel and to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Bridgehaven way is God’s, it’s a way that is led by the Holy Spirit and not our own desires or agenda.

Since our training in February the Holy Spirit has sparked countless conversations that are planting seeds and allowing the spirit to move in the way of transformation, but we have also been able to walk with four individuals as they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Two of those four happened in the past week. I would like to share with you the story from one of our client advocates as she describes her experience.

Yesterday a return client came to Bridgehaven for a pregnancy test. She was extremely anxious. Throughout the almost two hours of pouring out her story, I heard pain and shame along with embarrassment for hurtful choices, leading to a sense of entrapment. As I reflected what I sensed her feelings to be, she sighed and smiled as she said “exactly!” She seemed to relax a little, just from being heard and understood.

Her situation is complicated but I heard honesty, taking responsibility for choices she now needs to make, humility in not blaming others for her current situation, and a longing to have a stable and loving home.

With her permission, we looked at several scriptures together from Jeremiah and Romans. After discussing her reactions to these, she was open to praying together, “But I don’t know how to pray,” she said. I assured her that I would be glad to help if she wanted me to. She nodded, “Yes.” After we prayed together, she surrendered her life to Jesus, asking Him into her heart to lead her and teach her how to live for Him by the power of His Holy Spirit, she gave me the biggest smile and accepted a warm hug, thanking me. I told her, “Now you just watch how the Lord is going to work in your life!”

I think it’s the most humbling opportunity to become a fisher of men for Jesus. It is the most important thing that we do, but must be done with pureness of heart; we must keep the goal of continuing to be ministers and NOT manipulators at the forefront of our minds. We anticipate and know that God’s timing is unique for everyone we meet and the conversations or experiences will look different with each client He places before us, so we move forward with complete trust and obedience in the Lord.

So, I want to fill your hearts with one last story of the cutest couple that came through our doors a few weeks ago. I don’t know much about them, other than what I heard and saw for myself. I was holding a meeting in my office when I heard this hootin’ and holleran’ outside my office window. I did my best to discreetly sneak a peek through my blinds and saw a young man and young woman headed to their car. The young man had his arms raised to the heavens and with all this energy exclaimed to the entire neighborhood, “Whoooooooo! I am so happy!!!” As he continued over and over again, he ran around to the passenger side of the car and wrapped his arms around the mama, making her break out into a huge smile. It was terrific, so heartwarming to see and hear!

Let me tell ya, the fish are really bitin’ right now. God is bringing them to the surface and we are prepared, equipped and connected to him like never before. So, come along with us…bring your resources, share your time, share your love, share Jesus.

I want to close tonight with a few words our current VP Mike Pence shared with the crowd at the 2017 March for Life: “Let this movement be known for love, not anger. Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation. When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness.” I’m going to pray this over each of you tonight…because we cannot miss this!

Father, you have brought each person here for this moment, this message; this opportunity. Thank you for the hearts you’ve united and call you have upon Bridgehaven, its staff, volunteers and supporters. Let US be known for love not anger, compassion not confrontation. For nothing is stronger than gentleness. In your Holy name. Amen.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Lay Down Your Burdens, Love Awaits

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I’ve recently been embraced by a wonderful community of Jesus-loving women. These women come to my house every week. We enjoy scripture together, sharing our lives together and growing in Christ’s love together. We have quickly created a bond of safety, trust and sisterhood.

This year, during Lent, we decided to journey together through a release of baggage or burdens that we are carrying. Each of us were given a rock to carry with us throughout the 40 days of Lent. The rock represented the weight, obstruction, accommodation and presence of the burdens in our everyday lives. The idea is to be able to name your burden, identify how it affects your life, your relationships with those around you and ultimately your relationship with Jesus. For me, I had done this powerful activity during a retreat a few years ago and laid a very heavy burden at the cross. It was freeing and allowed me to fall deeper into God’s perfect love for me. This time, however, I wasn’t sure. There was no one big, heavy burden taunting me or holding back; or so I thought.

The assignment was to carry this rock everywhere, yes, everywhere. To work, to events, sitting there at the table while you’re eating, in the bathroom while you’re getting ready…everywhere. While carrying this rock, this burden, we were to meditate on what we were learning about carrying this around. Well, by the end of week one I had already failed. My rock remained perched where I had left it that Sunday afternoon; on the side table next to my comfy chair. Throughout the week I would glance at it, knowing exactly where I left it. Seeing it there reminded me of the assignment and how clueless I was to what God was calling me to let go of during this time. It wasn’t until about two and half weeks in that I realized how God was weaving a beautiful message for me.

It has been a desire of my heart and prayer that the Lord would take me deeper and into purer relationship with Him. That he would reveal to me anything and everything that was holding me back from a pureness of heart that only comes from His love. Day after day, as I glanced over at my rock sitting on that side table, I began to see it. That little rock started to blend into the décor of my household, no would know its significance but me, and the Lord. People may not even notice it sitting there or feel its presence; but I did. No matter how small it was I knew it was there, nagging at me to pick it up. Sometimes, I would; it felt smooth in my hand and I found it kinda pretty. But as I set it down that final time it hit me…I knew what burden my rock represented. I suddenly knew why I had not felt an urge to ‘follow the rules’ and carry it every day. Why it sat there inconspicuously taking up space in my home.

This little rock represented the hardness and ungodliness that still took up space in my heart and was keeping me from the deeper, purer relationship I desired with God. You know, the prideful things or judgmental things you may not say out loud but are thinking, before you say what you’re supposed to say or feel, before you ask God to change your heart. Those things are always there, taking up space in your heart. No one would know but you, and the Lord. Oh, how hard it is for me to admit that my first mental responses are not appropriate for public ears. But God has always known what’s in my heart and what I’m thinking or feeling, He’s always loved me despite this ugliness.

After I was able to get over my initial disappointment in myself, I thought I had come so far, He asked me to lay down the hidden burdens of pride, judgment and control. He promised to replace them with true humility, authentic understanding and a kind of peace that only He can bless us with. Yes Lord, that is what I know you are calling me to but I do not know how. His grace showered over me as I sat in this truth and prayed for mercy to help me let go of these ungodly things.

I admitted my sin to the godly women of my weekly study, and they listened and loved me anyway. They loved me the way Jesus would. And on that last day, before Easter, as we released our burdens and prayed over one another in my front yard, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit bringing us comfort and peace; His presence never failing to lift us up, sustains us for our journey. Thank you, Lord.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Live Loved,
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Longing for Unity Among My Community

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:3-6

This scripture from Ephesians 4 is one we frequently use to describe how the Bridgehaven team is inspired to work together. It has quickly become one of my favorites. Not because we do it well 100% of the time, but because when our little community becomes one in the Lord there is the hope of peace.

I am so grateful that our Lord intends us to live in community with one another. He doesn’t intend for his children to live in isolation from each other. So many people feel alone, or that they don’t belong. We’ve all experienced times of our lives that we think no one will understand or no one will accept us. That is a lie. Jesus says, ‘You do belong. Keep coming. Keep coming.’ The truth is, God already knows your brokenness and loves you anyway.

He created us to be unique and different from one another. To live in harmony, complementing the God-given gifts that he’s blessed us with. Ok…so that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But is that what’s happening? Most days, as I look out into the world I see a vast divide. I see people using their God-given gifts in self-righteous and hurtful ways. We are quick to condemn those that don’t respond, act, think or share the same views as we do. Satan is playing with our egos like I’ve never seen before and it’s heartbreaking.

Unity is a part of community. All of us have a community of people we know and love. So how do we turn that community into unity? How do we love bigger, forgive more, remove our own agendas and grow closer to the Lord?

‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8

Hard stuff. I know, but isn’t it worth it to live in God’s peace? Our internal thoughts and our inability to love is, in many ways, the cause of the divide in our community. I think that if we followed Micah 6:8 more often we would see more people doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it might be. We’d see people’s hearts breaking and bleeding for one another, especially those that have wronged us. And we’d see a removal of self, we’d move through life with no expectation of return.

Today my prayer for my community, all those I know and love (including you) is 1 Corinthians 12:25-27:

‘That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.’

Amen.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

A Godly Marriage

A Godly marriageFebruary! The season of love, romance and all things pink and red! (Ohhh, how I love all things pink, I really do!) This sweet season of giddiness, googly-eyes and constant hand-holding means one thing; Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Honestly, I’m not the mushy type anymore, but I used to be. Now, there’s just not a lot of opportunity for mush. Between rushing from here to there, managing a busy family schedule not only diminishes the time available for the lovey stuff but doesn’t necessarily leave you in the snugly mood. But when Valentine’s Day comes around each year, those butterflies in my heart are awoken and ready to profess my love to my love.

Well, the mush and romance may not happen every day but I truly do love being Mrs. Don McDill more today than ever before. How is this possible? The only way this is possible is with God. The day we allowed God to be at the center of our marriage, everything changed. Don and I both have failed relationships in our pasts and this time, we vowed it was different. We never wanted to go down that broken road again. However, those words didn’t mean much without our acceptance of God’s presence within our marriage. With God, we have vowed to put our selfish needs and wants aside, choose love and move forward in unity.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9

I have to admit, however, I am truly an imperfect wife. I’ve gone through seasons where I try to be perfect and fail miserably. I still experience times of struggle where I want to take control and then other times when I have no interest in control. I still send mixed messages and make mistakes; essentially, I’m a work in progress. However, as we began to learn and live out God’s plan for marriage, we found a renewed sense of harmony and grace between the two of us.

“Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19

I know this is an unpopular way of thinking when measured by the world’s view of womanhood and I certainly didn’t think this way ten years ago. But as I began to embrace God’s idea and plan for me as a wife, it empowered Don to be a better husband and father, and ultimately, brought us closer together. This calling upon my life is not easy and not a natural place for me to be. I am used to taking the lead, making decisions and moving the team forward. God is using this stirring in me to teach me a new sense of discipline and obedience that brings not only Don and I closer together but it brings me closer and more intimate in my relationship with Jesus. Proving that some of the hardest transformations bring the most fruit in our lives.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made in perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

When we are functioning within God’s plan for marriage, the love is powerful. There’s…

  • no fear; only confidence and strength in each other
  • no confusion; honesty and trust wins out
  • no arguing; tenderness and authenticity in our partnership prevails as we work through the ups and downs of life
  • no stepping over each other; only kindness, patience and respect

Despite my natural tendency to lead, I am making a conscious decision (and effort) to give him space to step into his role. God has grown me so much in my marriage to Don. He is constantly reminding me of how my pride is the killer of a godly marriage. I am daily making a choice to move my ego aside and allow my rock solid, loving husband to take the lead in our marriage. I proudly take my place as his helper and partner and am reaping the blessings of a love that knows know fear.

Heavenly Father, this Valentine’s Day, I celebrate the fearless and beautiful love You want for all married couples. May these couples experience the humility, grace and unity that you desire for a life-affirming and life-long marriage. May husbands lead with dignity, strength and truth and may wives come alongside their husbands with support, wisdom and grace. Remind us, Lord, that marriage is gift and blessing created for your people and a covenant to be entered into with the utmost honor. Amen.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

It’s a Wonderful Life


Like most women, there’s really nothing like a Christmas movie on a blustery snowy night to put you in the mood to snuggle up in your flannel jammies & slippers and begin knitting that scarf you’ve been putting off for the last few weeks. Last week, It’s a Wonderful Life fit the bill for me and my family. I hadn’t watched the movie in quite a few years. Honestly, my husband and I don’t get a lot of TV time with an eight year old in the house and if we do get the chance this time of year, I coerce him in to watching my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas! He loves it, I’m sure.

This year the movie took on a new and deeper meaning for me. As most of you know, the story follows Mr. George Bailey as his journey and actions to help others move him further and further away from the dreams he holds for himself. George experiences great success in terms of being a hard-working, big-hearted and talented man. He finds an adorable woman who loves him dearly, they marry and have children. George continues to battle feelings of inadequacy and failure to make his dreams come to fruition while he’s deeply immersed in a community of people that love him. But as in many cases, the demons he battles makes it hard for him to see how wonderful his life truly is.

I won’t give it away but as most of you know George hits a breaking point and believes that his family would be better off if he were dead. An angel intervenes to save George from himself and show him just how wonderful and full his life really is. The angel, named Clarence, decides to show him what life in Bedford Falls would be like if there had never been a George Bailey. He lived a day in a life where George Bailey had never been born.

What if YOU had the opportunity to experience what George did? In my case, I’m sure there’d be some things that turned out just fine without me, but I’d like to think there would be some drastic changes in this world because I’d never been born. Since starting my journey at Bridgehaven, I’ve met many people for whom this question is a very real part of their journey on this earth, “What would life be like if I’d never been born?” These people, friends of mine, know that their parents faced a decision. They either attempted an abortion or greatly considered it. I shudder every time I think of a world without these influential and amazing human beings.

This movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, reminds us how precious life is; every life. It shows us the impact that one human being has on, not just their intimate circle of friends and family, but an entire town. This story is a classic, not because it’s a terrific movie but because it’s a great story that all of us can understand and identify with. Life has very low times, many times it’s hard to see out of the darkness that consumes us. It’s hard to see the blessings that surround us in the midst of our darkest seasons. In this story, George Bailey mattered. We all matter; YOU matter. God created each of us for a purpose.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Each year millions of lives are taken through abortion. How much more wonderful would life be if these lives had a chance to bear fruit? In this lifetime, we will never know.

Father, as we approach this Christmas celebration, we are grateful for the lives we have. Let us reflect upon the how closely our lives are knitted to those around us, in our community. Help us to cherish our life and the lives of the unborn. For we are not the creator of life, You are.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

What About Tomorrow?

untitled-designWell, today’s the day. It’s finally here and while many are relieved that after today there will be no more ads and the decision will be made, I am questioning our future now more than ever. What will tomorrow look like? How will one side or the other respond if their candidate is not chosen? How can I look some of my Facebook friends in the eye again after their messages hurt my heart so much? What is our nation turning into?

Honestly, I refuse to blame it on politics or the presidential candidates, for these two individuals are a direct reflection of what our society has become. We live in a culture that sees only what we want to see, what will satisfy our current desires. We are an unforgiving people. We are quick to an opinion or a judgment without thinking about how it affects those around us.

This election is the buildup of years and years of allowing the wrong things to get our time and attention. We’ve lived a life believing the lie that everything that sounds good, looks good, and feels good, IS good. We’ve been told to be successful, you have to watch out for #1, while cheating, lying and stomping on others to get there. We’ve allowed all of this yuck into our workplaces, homes, schools and relationships. Shamefully, we’ve turned a blind eye to so many wrong doings and injustices.

For all this, I am guilty.

But no more. No longer will I allow pride to rule in my heart over kindness and the respect of others. Pride is killing our nation and we are the only ones who can stop it for the sake of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of my favorite scriptures is playing over and over again in my heart this morning;

“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

Take this into every situation. Where there is conflict or unity, these words will heal and help us all to share in life’s journey together. Take it to the voting booth today, start now.

No one person will fix this mess, only God can. So I ask you all, after today, whether your candidate wins or loses; be kind, selfless and respectful. After today, what we have seen played out over the past few months will most likely continue in some shape or form. But we don’t have to buy into it. If we choose kindness, selflessness and respect from this day forth, we just might save our nation. We have to answer the Jesus’ calling. He does not say to love ourselves; what we do, say and feel. No, He says, “Love they neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Matthew 12:31)

So…

  • Instead of questioning your neighbor’s motives, go seek to understand them better. Ask them why they feel the way they do. Share your heart and encourage them to share theirs.
  • Instead of making a statement and telling the world what you think and feel, be humble and ask the Lord to reveal the time and place for your message to unfold and to whom it will serve the most good.
  • Instead of blasting out wrongs and rights, be encouraging and uplifting.

This route is the hardest route. This route takes self-control, patience and love. But what do ya say…let’s give it a try?

Live Loved My Friends,

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

We Survived the Flood

2016 Cedar Rapids Flood

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

On September 22nd, our staff shared reflections of God’s faithfulness in our morning prayer time. Little did we know how that day would unfold. Just five hours later, I would be hovering over my computer listening to our mayor share a message that I hoped never to hear again in my lifetime. Both locations, Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center and Treasures Quality Resale Shoppe, were just inside the projected flood zone and decisions had to be made.

We chose to evacuate both locations but it had to be done quickly. So many people came. I am still blown away by the love, persistence and determination of those who showed up to help. If you were standing in the middle of the center on Friday afternoon, you would have experienced a whirlwind of people rushing past you with hands full of items and furniture on its way to our second floor. You would have seen people from all over; young people from Kennedy and Xavier High Schools, faithful volunteers who know our ministry inside and out, new volunteers who were just getting to know us and even people right off the street who were just walking by and decided to jump in and help. We had approximately 130 people over a two-day period between both buildings working with us to protect our ministry.

God is so good! Cedar Rapids was spared! He gets all the glory for uniting our ministry through a very difficult experience. Everyone played a role, from helping hands-on with the efforts, to praying every day that Bridgehaven and the city of Cedar Rapids would be spared and protected. Thank you to all who played a part and are yet to play a part in our recovery as we continue to put things back together.

We experienced the joy in knowing that our hope was in Him because we knew the miracles He performed for Bridgehaven in 2008. We were patient through our time of waiting to see what the flood waters would do. And we will continue to be faithful with our prayers of thanksgiving and worship to our all-powerful, all-knowing and faithful Lord God!
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Releasing the Power

power switch

For a moment in time this power switch represented the life of this ministry.

A few weeks ago we were faced with the fact that the Cedar River was on the rise, again. Bridgehaven and its resale shop, Treasures, were predicted to be in the flood zone. How much water would we get? No one really knew what to expect. In the end, the decision was made to evacuate both buildings. That meant that everything from the first floor of the Bridgehaven building needed to go up to the second floor with some things taken to another safe site, and everything at Treasures needed to be relocated. So much had to be done!

But Jesus just looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26

For some reason the image of this power switch, the switch that cuts off power to the entire building, was with me throughout the two days of work that needed to be done. In my mind, the idea of flipping the power switch to the building made me emotional. I couldn’t think about it too much or I would cry. The idea of flipping the switch and walking away felt final. I also knew that once that switch was flipped, the work was done and the hardest part was next, the waiting to see if flood waters would swallow the first floor of Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center. In the moments leading up to this last step before leaving the building, it was like the switch represented the life of the ministry and my heart was breaking at the thought of shutting it down.

When it came time to flip the switch, it was just me, my husband and son in the building. The place was already dark, already quiet. It was calm and peaceful, like the building was slumbering after a couple of days of hard work. I’m not sure what I expected or what I thought would happen when I flipped that switch. I knew my anticipation had nothing to do with fear but rather a sadness I wasn’t looking forward to.

My family stood with me as I placed my hand on the switch and pulled down. The funny part is that I couldn’t pull the switch on my own. I had no clue how difficult it would be to flip that switch and turn off the power to the building. So my husband and I did it together.

With the power off, the center was still alive. The darkness did not consume and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with us in that hallway. I was so focused on this switch, this silly act of cutting off electricity to the building, that I lost sight of where the life of this center truly comes from–our Lord and Savior.

I’ve always felt God’s presence here. I’ve always known He was the life source of who we are and what we do. And the power within this building is His as well. All things are His.

What I had anticipated to be a sad act of release turned out to be a spiritual act of release. As that switch flipped, I released all power I had into God’s loving, kind and comforting hands.

Dear God, everything this center is, has been and will be is Yours, Lord God and I thank you for humbly reminding me that you are the true giver of life, the life that surrounds us and is everlasting.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” Matthew 6:13

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Royalty Awaits You

Bridgehaven Staff with Princess Tiana (From left: Kelli Hansen, Prevention Coordinator; Therese Mefferd, Nurse Manager; Princess Tiana; Kylee Pusteoska, Director of Development; Chelsey McDill, Executive Director

Bridgehaven Staff with Princess Tiana (From left: Kelli Hansen, Prevention Coordinator; Therese Mefferd, Nurse Manager; Princess Tiana; Kylee Pusteoska, Director of Development; Chelsey McDill, Executive Director

Last week, several Bridgehaven staff members traveled to Orlando, FL to attend the 2016 National CareNet Conference. While there, we were blessed to have a few hours to jump over to Epcot for a little excitement. Upon our arrival into the park, we noticed Princess Tiana (from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog) standing there taking pictures with precious little girls. I don’t recall who mentioned it first but we all thought it was a great idea to get our picture taken with Princess Tiana, so off to the line we went. When our turn arrived, Princess Tiana held out her loving arms and said in her best southern accent, “Well, who do we have here?” All of us, each one of us grown women, were speechless. We just bit our nails, looked at each other and let out a big sheepish GIGGLE. That’s right, we giggled…like little girls.

Most little girls dream of being a princess. We love the elegance, the glamour, the mystery, the romance of it all. As we grow older the fairy tale fades and is replaced with the reality of life. Our life choices, the twists and turns, the ups and downs we experience, lead us to believe that princesses are created by Disney for little girls and someday their dreams, too, will be crushed by the realities of life.

So then, why did we all have such a vivid, child-like reaction to the presence of Disney royalty? And if I have that kind of reaction to her, what kind of reaction will I have to the one true King, when He comes?

And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8

My goodness! I sure hope I have a more dignified response, but I may not. My natural reaction may be to giggle and sit in awe of who He is. But what He will remind me is that I AM royalty. I am His princess and always have been. Therefore, I should conduct myself as one today. I should be confident in His love, kind and generous, honest, forgiving, reflecting beauty from the inside out.

I have not lived the life of a princess, mostly by my own doing, but my relationship with the Lord has changed all that. I still have to live with the mistakes of my past but I am no longer defined by them. Accepting my place as one of His many princesses on this earth changes everything and means that I now have a responsibility to bring other women to their rightful place as a princess of the Lord our God.

You see, we women are more precious than any jewel. When did we stop believing that? When did we let the world around us take away our beauty, our zest for life, our child-like innocence? As we enter into the fold of God’s unfailing love we are washed by his perfection. We are made new. We are all deserving of our royal position the Lord blesses us with.

You are a princess of the Lord, whether you feel like it or not. You are royalty! Embrace it, share it, and grow into the grace that has been bestowed upon you. And if you feel like wearing an extra poufy dress, a sparkling tiara and a big child-like grin, shine on Princess of the One True King…shine on!!!

Live Loved Princesses,
Chelsey
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director