Archives for Trisha S.

A Great Light

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:2 NASB

I was invited to attend the Care Net conference this month in Washington DC. with several other staff members at Bridgehaven. Care Net is the umbrella organization that supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America, including Bridgehaven. We soaked up four days of engrossing keynote speakers (like David Nasser and Andi Andrews), current knowledge and instruction from amazing workshop leaders (like Kathy Koch), rich networking fellowship with others from all across the nation, and powerful times of holy worship after each morning devotional.

I have many, many take-aways (I am still deciphering and organizing my notes). But, what has traveled home with me, and what I have found myself talking about more than anything else is a session with Lisa Hosler, President of Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her session was called Leading in the Secret of the Productive Pause.
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The Invisible Among Us


I had been a part of the Bridgehaven staff for nearly two and a half years when the Lord began to gently guide me into the hidden rooms of my heart. Rooms with doors that had been locked, sealed off, darkened over time until they were no longer even acknowledged. Not forgotten, mind you, just easier and easier to ignore.

As I began to learn more and more about the women we serve, I became aware of a class that was offered several times a year. It took place after hours, when most had gone home. There was anonymity in the air…one light in the building would softly glow for a few hours more. It was a Post-Abortive Support (PAS) Bible Study.

At my two year mark, I began to feel a growing uneasiness that comes from keeping your abortion a secret while working at a pro-life pregnancy support center. And just as quickly as God began to awaken this call for me to come forward, the enemy began to undermine, whispering familiar messages about my shamefulness, my hypocrisy, my inadequacy. Contrary to what I knew of the hearts of those I worked with, I was taunted with messages like, “If they knew, they would not have hired you. If you tell them, how could they possibly allow you to keep working here, especially with teens!”
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Rest for the Weary

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

Does your heart resonate with any of these questions? As rewarding and satisfying as ministry work is, it can also bring seasons of weariness and heartache. Without loving perspective, frequent respites, God’s grace and restoration, compassion fatigue can be a deadly weapon of the enemy. One expert describes compassion fatigue this way:

“We have not been directly exposed to the trauma scene, but we hear the story told with such intensity, or we hear similar stories so often, or we have the gift and curse of extreme empathy and we suffer. We feel the feelings of our clients. We experience their fears. We dream their dreams. Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humor and hope. We tire. We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.”

This has been an adrenaline-filled season for our family. Joyous events like the birth of grandchildren and marriages of our children (positive stress); heartbreaking events like the loss of a foster child, and substance and alcohol relapses of dear friends and family members; miraculous events like recovery and reunited families; helpless situations that we are forced to watch but not intervene in; physical injuries and annoying ailments…and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down!

Our prevention work at Bridgehaven has taken us into areas of ministry where we are privy to endless stories of unfathomable tragedies in the life of teens. We are so grateful for the privilege of speaking truth and love into lives saturated by deception and evil–God has been opening so many doors. We are blessed with incredible resources and encouragement for the work we are doing.

But, if we lose sight of our greatest Resource, the One who is humble and gentle at heart, the only One who can trade yokes with us and teach us and give us rest, our burden will be far too heavy for us to carry. We will continue to be and grow more weary.

How does the world do it without Jesus? The only way I can survive some of the stories and real life scenarios we encounter is to KNOW and TRUST that He is also walking with each of them, and that they have Hope and a future. That we are there not to be rescuers or saviors, but to help them know The Savior, who can do far more than the little bits of support and compassion that we have to offer.

Remember to rest, friends. He does not intend for any of His children to struggle with heavy burdens or remain weary. Verse 29 reminds us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

When I was in high school, I sang with a group called The Messengers, who eventually had an opportunity to record an album in Nashville, TN. A song comes to mind that we sang on that album…

Who’s that walking down the road
Carrying such a heavy load?
Sinner lay your burden down
Cause you’re walking down
heaven’s road

Walking down heaven’s road
Gonna lay down that heavy load
Jesus said He’d walk along with me
Praise God, glory hallelujah!

I’m singing all the way
Sun shinin’ every day
So won’t you come along and join me
On that heaven’s road?

Young folks walking hand in hand
Singing with the angel band
Old folks ain’t so tired no more
Cause they’re walking down
heaven’s road

Happy Trails!
Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

More than trusting God…but, trusting Him Enough?

I trusted God with the task of creating a new life for my daughter and her husband after numerous failed IVF attempts and miscarriages. I knew it was possible; but how could I trust Him with my daughter’s broken heart if a baby was never to be?

I trusted God with the idea that a neglected and abused 12-year old girl would come to live with us until reunification was possible, and thanked Him for the honor of caring for her; but how could I trust Him now with her illegal mother’s sudden and reckless decision to put her on a plane to Mexico this morning. Alone. A one-way ticket, despite open cases with DHS?

I trusted God with the failed marriage of one of my sons; but how can I trust Him to watch over my precious five-year-old granddaughter now that her mother has removed her from our lives these last 22 months?

I trusted God with the upbringing of my children, for their decisions to accept a plan for salvation, and for their spiritual growth; but how can I trust Him now that one has turned away from truth and is wandering in a wasteland of unhealthy choices, behaviors and relationships?

I am so willing to trust and believe in miracles, to trust in the fact that God CAN do miraculous things. I can pray for those acts, believing that it is possible. Psalm 77:14: “…you are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”

I can trust that I am praying in accordance to His will for my life, the lives of my children and grandchildren. Philippians 2:13 “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

I can trust prayer in a time of crisis. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I trust His love for me and for others. Psalms 91:14 “Because He loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”

I do not doubt His desire to provide for us, comfort us, gift us… James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

It’s the trusting enough that is the bigger struggle.

When all that is left is the reality of a situation long out of my control, or even influence…
I am learning to trust Him enough to let go.

When my stomach is sick at the outcome of a crisis, and it’s not at all as I prayed it would be…
I am learning to trust Him enough to keep going.

When I can’t discern a possible “good” in a certain situation…
I am learning to trust Him enough to choose hope.

When He has brought me just “so far” and I cannot see His plan…
I am learning to trust Him enough to not fear.

When He has brought me into someone’s life that He has now placed in the hands of another…
I am learning to trust Him enough to walk away. With peace.

When I was sure that He was guiding the promises of others, and yet promises became broken…
I am learning to trust Him enough to trust others again.

And I am trusting that these things remain true:

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

“Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Havana McInnis Hartman

Havana McInnis Hartman

This is a picture of that faith and assurance and hope. My new granddaughter, born just three weeks ago, was prayed for when she was just 5 cells big, and being not so optimistically implanted back into her mommy’s womb. She was unseen and now she is seen! His works are perfect!

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

Dear Mom

Dear MomDear Mom,

I get it. You were hurt by Dad. You are hurt and angry and wounded. I don’t like what he did…to you…or to our family. It’s confusing. I’m trying to sort all of this out, too. But…he’s my Dad. I need him in my life, like I need you in my life. But you need to know, when you confide in me about your broken relationship with him, I feel expected to take “sides”—I don’t always know if I am your daughter or your friend. When you degrade him to me, I feel guilty for not standing up for him, and guilty for wanting to. When you are jealous of how and where he spends time, or who he spends it with, it confuses me, because you focus all of your energy on this person you say you don’t like. And sometimes, when you criticize him, it spills and splatters onto me, because I am part of him. Do you hate me too?

There’s a guy, at school. His parents are getting a divorce too. We started talking when I asked him why he was in such a bad mood one day. We found out that we were feeling all of the same feelings about family and love and marriage: betrayed. Like, how we thought our parents would be together. Like, how chaotic it feels at home. Like, how it feels as if we are walking on egg shells if we ever talk about one parent to another. How it was easier to drop out of school stuff than to suffer through the two of them having to attend at the same event at the same time.

The more we talk, the closer we get. And the closer we become, the easier it is to insulate against the rest of our “worlds.” He says that we will never be apart, and he likes to know where I am all the time. He says this way he knows I’m being faithful. He says that he will always love me, and that I can show him that same love by choosing him over my friends. He says that our relationship will be perfect because we share everything, even our bodies. That making love is a way to keep us together. I wanted to ask you if this is true, but I’ve been watching you with your new boyfriend since he moved in and I guess you’re cool with it…


This is an all too familiar scenario of many of the teens we come in contact with, and representative of how culture is trending toward the “unformed family.” We came across an interesting perspective article by David Blankenhorn* who defined, the 50’s as an era that represented the “married family.” In the 80’s, it became the “divorced family.”

“…The 2010’s may represent movement toward a peak period for the unformed family. It would be an era of lots of families never forming at all…A child in an unformed family can and likely will experience family life over time in a variety of living arrangements. For example, she could live alone with her mother, with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend or partner, or with her mother and father for a short period of time…”

Empowering choices for life through Christ-centered education and support

Our mission at Bridgehaven continues to be one that is impacting Cedar Rapids families. Having the privilege and the presence in schools, intercepting distorted impressions about love and relationships, educating both teens and parents, creating opportunities to change the course of even one life, is leading them to the Most Formed Family: a Kingdom Family, the Family of God.

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention
Kelli Hansen-Edwards, Prevention Assistant

*Are We Still Married? Family Structure and Family Policy in the Emerging Age of the Unformed Family by David Blankenhorn.

Children of the Most High King

This week, after my time working with a group of students at a treatment center, I noticed a beautiful young girl from the group, lingering just outside our room looking troubled. Just barely beginning her sixteenth year, “Callie” was quick to acknowledge that it was a difficult day. Her parents were coming for a visit this evening and she was feeling nervous.

“Both of my parents are addicts, and I never really know how it’s going to go. My mom is in recovery, but not my Dad. My mom’s doing better, but DHS has already taken us from her twice before.”

“Callie” went on to tell me about her five year old and twelve year old brothers, and how worried and scared she is for them. I asked her what her drug of choice (D.O.C.) has been and how she was first introduced.

“My D.O.C. is meth and marijuana. My mom taught me everything about it and showed me how to use it. We would use together. Yeah, she said that she would rather me know the safe way to use it and do it at home rather than out with friends where I could get in trouble or get caught with it.

I was up for 28 days straight with no sleep. I lost over 80 pounds in one month. After I finally came down, I slept for two days. When I woke up I was so sick and ended up in the hospital, where I detoxed and went through withdrawals. I self-committed and now all I want to do is get better so I can be there for my brothers.”

She and her mom will be working on a recovery plan that they can do together, which will include going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings, a relapse response plan, and holding each other accountable. At sixteen, she is not only struggling against her own demons, but now co-responsible for her own mother’s success or failure!

As you can imagine, my heart was breaking. I wanted to take her home with me. I wanted to show her, immerse her, in “normal” family dynamics. I wanted to scoop her up in my arms and carry her right up to the throne of God and lay her in Jesus’ arms.

Desperately, silently pleading for heaven’s wisdom, for careful, loving truths to share as a response to her story, God began to put words in my mouth…

“Do you ever think about one day when you might have a little girl of your own? Do you think you will parent differently? Anything you see yourself doing different?”

“Oh yeah, all the time!
I would definitely do a lot different.
I would take care of her and just love her and protect her from all the bad stuff.”

And then again, the God who never disappoints, whispers through me: “Well, Callie. From now on, until the time that you have a daughter of your own: YOU. BE. HER. Let yourself be that cherished little girl, deserving of love and protection. Can you do that? It is not fair that you have to be both the mom and the daughter, but you know how you would treasure and take care of your little girl. Allow yourself the same.”

The biggest smile began to grow on her face, and her eyes brightened and she said, “I’ve never thought of it that way before!”

“Can you do that?” I asked, willing every ounce of love and compassion to move from my eyes to her heart.

“Yeah, I think I can!”

She gave me permission to pray for her and she took down my number to call when she needed a hug. We both agreed that we would look forward to my next visit.

If only we could all be “the child” even as we are mistreated or experiencing those “unfair” moments, for we truly are children of the Most High King. A Father who desires to keep us safe, protect us from the bad stuff, and wants more than ever, to love and cherish us all of our lives.

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

Unpregnant

For my daughter and her husband, this was a devastating word uttered after seven weeks of hopeful ultrasounds. There was no longer a heartbeat.

Unpregnant.

For those contemplating abortion, this word “unpregnant” deceptively promises to undo what has been done; “freedom” to move on.

For still others, after choosing to terminate their pregnancy, this word brings momentary relief until the crushing reality of a desperate decision comes crashing down, weeks and often years, later.

It is hard to say what happens between seventh grade, when classrooms full of students are appalled by abortion (and even more so by adoption), and tenth grade, when casual sex and all of its consequences are so…well…casual?

Girls on the popular reality show, “The Bachelor,” are often afraid to confess that they are still “virgins” because they will likely be rejected for not having enough experience. When did the pendulum swing from the other side when people were more afraid to admit that they are NOT virgins for fear of rejection?

It remains true that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

In this great battle for purity, I am privileged to be a part of, there are some dark days. When I hear middle school students proclaim with such authority and assurance, “My mom says when I’m 13, me and my boyfriend can start getting tested (for STIs).” Or as a 12 year old girl asked aloud in her 7th grade classroom, “What do you do if you’re always horny?” On those days, I have to admit that I wonder if I’m making a difference. Indeed, can a difference be made?

Then there are other days, like this past Friday, when a middle school teacher shared how important it is that Bridgehaven comes into his school each year to explain to the students the benefits of delaying sexual activity and the consequences of being sexually involved too soon. He sees that the students need to understand the decisions they make today will have consequences beyond this brief moment in their life, but he doesn’t know how to do this or feel comfortable explaining that to them. And there is further encouragement from his 8th grade students who said that Bridgehaven’s Prevention program has made them more determined to save sex for their future marriage partner. Yes, a difference can be made.

Of course, only God knows for sure what inroads are being forged. Only He knows where the enemy has been foiled, a heart has been pricked, a mind has been changed. It may be a seed that sits underground until the proper season. The ideas of purity, integrity, self-respect and honor are continuously distorted and misunderstood. After all, there are entire industries that make millions of dollars as they seek to corrupt, deceive, disrespect and dishonor.

None of this is surprising or new to our Creator. He alone can manage the outcomes. Our responsibility is to…”not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

So, we will not become weary. There is a harvest. We will not give up.

Just keep planting. Just keep planting…

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention