Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center - Cedar Rapids, Iowa Blog

Peer-to-Peer Mentors: Where Are They Now

…That time when I took eight high school students to Washington, D.C. for a week to lobby for sexual health education on Capitol Hill!

This little gem popped up on my Facebook memories feed and brought back some great memories.  In 2009, I was privileged to take a group of eight high school students who were serving Bridgehaven as peer-to-peer mentors to Washington DC where we mingled and lobbied our legislators about the importance of sexual risk avoidance (SRA) education. I decided to attempt a “WHERE ARE THEY NOW” coup with some of our peer-to-peer mentors of yesteryear. I was excited to hear from a few of them…so international!!

  • Kelli: “I’m living in Los Angeles, working as a freelance social media manager. I’m moving to Nairobi, Kenya in June for a yearlong internship with a child sponsorship organization out there!😁 God is soo good, Jesus is ever faithful.   Hope everyone is doing well!”
  • Adrienne: “Got married in October, met my husband when I lived in India for a year. Living in Cedar Rapids for now. Currently looking at schools to apply for my masters in social work to be a mental health therapist.”
  • Caleb: “I got married about 2.5 years ago, and I am living in Lynchburg, VA. I work at Liberty University where I am currently working on my MBA.”
  • Tiffany: “I live in Seattle as a marketing coordinator for City University of Seattle! I’m married to a wonderful man and we have a puppy named Rogue.  Hope all is well!
  • Melanie: “I’m living in Omaha, NE! I’m a deaconess at my church, Citylight Benson and helped plant this church! I own my own business, The Experience Company, geared toward managing and building successful corporate and fundraising events. I also serve on the Young Professionals Council for the city chamber along with various other boards. And I still go to Malawi, Africa every summer to help run our kids camp, Camp Chisomo!!”
  • Marie: “Hey everybody. I sure do love us in our professional clothes. 🙂 I’m doing well! I’m getting my Masters in Theology from Union School of Theology near Cardiff, Wales. It’s modular, so I spend some time out there and then do most of the research and writing from home. I live in CR, do a little hosting with Safe Families when I can, and make money by substitute teaching and waiting tables at Cobble Hill. Still single, send dates.”
  • Sarah: “I live in NYC and I’m a lawyer! Nothing else new or exciting with me.  I hope all is well for you!”

Our current Veracity program consists of high school and college students who love to mentor their younger peers by joining us as a panel in our classrooms for a day of Q & A about life, dating, stress, pressure, and their commitment to avoiding sexual risk.  If you know of any students who would appreciate the opportunity to promote sexual integrity through mentoring and education of their peers, we would love to talk to them!  We have several Veracity presentations coming up including Central City High School and Prairie Middle School.

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention



I called her Pants.  She called herself Cool Aunt Nancy.  Others called her sister, friend and mom.  She was a wife and a grandma.  She was one of the most awesome people I have ever met, and I was so blessed to have her in my life.  As she was leaving this earth, a doctor posed a question about what kind of life she had and her husband, my dear Uncle Rip responded, “She was kind of a party.”  And that was really all there was to say.

One of the clearest images I have of my aunt was from the 4th of July last year.  She showed up on the deck in the morning sporting a perfectly made-up face, stylish haircut, black shorts, cute flip flops and a simple white t-shirt with the word “AWESOME” in huge black letters.  As she strutted in front of the gathered family members, she pointed to her shirt and exclaimed, “Awesome has arrived!”  Pants admitted she only bought the shirt because when she pulled it off the sale rack at Von Maur, Andi, her oldest daughter, told her there was no way she was going to get the shirt.  Per usual, Nancy met the challenge, purchased the shirt and made sure every guest noticed it during the busiest time at the lake.

On Easter earlier that same year, she and my son were preparing cocktail wieners with barbeque sauce and Kinnick didn’t know what they were called.  Someone shouted out that they were Little Smokies, and Nancy smirked at Kinnick.  She got a wicked grin on her face, and she leaned her head toward Kinnick, acting like she had a special secret to share with him.  He leaned down to make sure and catch whatever nugget she was going to share, and she said, “You know, Kinnick…they used to call me Lil’ Smokey.”  She then erupted in laughter and the whole family was once again amazed that this tiny woman could make us all laugh so big.

Besides wanting to be the life of the party and being known for leaving half cans of beer in fridges across family houses, Nancy also had a huge heart.  Her grandchildren meant the world to her, and she was known to do her granddaughter’s laundry well after she should have.  She was a legend because she was the woman who could make more things with cheese and butter than any human being should.  Her hosting of Christmas celebrations was legendary…the peanut butter balls were always just the right size.  She decorated her house with flair and welcomed the family whenever they needed lodging or a pit stop in Cedar Falls.  She travelled to basketball and football and softball to cheer on her grandchildren.  Her friends loved her wacky sense of humor and use of emojis and the sweet Bitmoji she loved to text with.

I will miss her more than I can express, holidays won’t be the same, and I’m not sure who will make the mashed potatoes for events.  Pants has just always been a part of my world.  As a young girl, she was the fun aunt who spent summers with my parents at Clear Lake.  Lately, we were able to talk about divorce and what it is like raising kids.  She was a constant support and praised me for how I was raising my son.  Her encouragement meant so much.  I hope she knew how much she meant to me.

Her death has been a shock, but her life has been a lesson.  It’s totally okay to make people laugh, even if it is because you are silly.  It’s cool to be the cool aunt.  Her love and laughter are the things that will define her.  Her family is a testament to a bold love that fights and goes through ups and downs but always keeps the first thing first.  Family is everything.  Her death leaves a hole in our family, but the memories we have of her make us stronger.  I’ll miss you, Pants, aka Cool Aunt Nancy, aka Lil’ Smokey.

Kylee Pusteoska

Development Director

What’s Your Wilderness?

As the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness in the book of Exodus, there’s this constant cycle and theme of God’s provision, a restlessness from the Israelites leading to grumbling, fear, and self-reliance. God hears their grumbling and again provides, but again and again the Israelites fall into the same trap of grumbling fear and self-reliance as they focus on their pain and suffering.

I find it hypocritical that I laugh at the Israelites’ craziness because I can so relate to it. My current wilderness has me lost and tormented in my own moments of grumbling, fear, and self-reliance. I’ve suffered from chronic migraines most of my adult life. Over the last four years they’ve gotten worse. I can go days and weeks with the pain. I have learned to function to a point with pain, holding my head high and ‘just getting through it’, until my body cannot take it any longer. They can go from annoying to debilitating within just a few hours. The darkest times are when the fear sets in, my body is weak, my head is pounding, and nausea and dizziness sets in. I lie in bed holding my head, praying for the pain to subside, and concentrating on trying not to throw up. Read More

Learning To Be Vulnerable

“Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect…when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives”. –Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown

I don’t know about you, but I’m a HUGE chicken when it comes to taking risks. I’m that person who would rather cheer on my friends from the ground as they ride rollercoasters. Or the person who would rather be in the passenger’s seat rather than in the driver’s seat on a road trip to Chicago. Or even the person who would rather sit back and wait for that cute boy to approach me for conversation rather than be bold enough to go up to him and start talking (or even just email first). Risk-taking isn’t really in my vocabulary all that often – or hardly at all.

Some loved ones in my life have challenged me recently to take more risks. I can’t say it feels all that comfortable to consider, but it sure has had me thinking! What is it that makes me feel so uncomfortable about risk-taking? What are those things holding me back from taking a risk? What do I need to work on in my own heart and mind to overcome the fear in taking even the slightest risk? Well, in the simplest terms, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be more vulnerable.

Brene Brown was so on point in that quote I shared about how we fight those feelings that come with vulnerability and strive to appear perfect. I felt convicted as I read that we grow distant from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves. I’m not sure what that looks like or means to you, but I know when I fail to be vulnerable, I am going against who God has created me to be and the roles He has planned for my life.

Sometimes I just want to be the person who just gets to sit back and take it all in without having to take the slightest risk. But God has much bigger plans for you and for me, and they require allowing ourselves to be seen and heard. Ultimately we need to be vulnerable because He has created us with a purpose and for a purpose. He has created us in His image, and therefore He is the One who is working through us to be seen and heard. With that in mind, how could I not want to be more vulnerable so that others might know Him more?

Heavenly Father, I pray for all of us taking in this message right now. I pray we learn how to fully trust in You when it comes to being vulnerable. I ask that You give us courage in those moments when fear or anxiety take over our minds or hearts, and that You remind us of the abundant blessings which come from being more vulnerable. Help us to take even the smallest step towards being more vulnerable so You are able to shine even more visibly and even brighter than ever before. In your name we pray. Amen.

Haley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Haley Brimmer

Director of Client Advocacy

Focus: Church Engagement and Kingdom Building

At the 2015 Care Net conference, Roland Warren, President of Care Net, shared with us and other pregnancy support centers from around the country that God had given him a vision. That vision was to see pregnancy support centers re-evaluate and incorporate a mind and heart to work to the next level of ministry to build up of the Bride of Christ through effective evangelism, discipleship, and connecting our clients to local churches and faith communities.

Since 2015, Client Support has focused on church engagement: encouraging clients to be connected to the local Body of Christ. We’ve communicated this focus within Client Support to build a foundation of this vision with our clients.

In 2018, the focus and intent of this engagement is increasing!
Read More

An Open Letter

To the girl facing an unplanned pregnancy:

The last thing I wanted was to be pregnant.  As I sat in the counseling room at Bridgehaven, I had no idea what was in store for my future.  All I knew was I was alone.  The father of my baby was not involved, I was trying to overcome a drug addiction, and I had no money.  I felt like the whole world was closing in on me.  A friend of mine texted me, “You just wait.  This baby is going to change your life for the better.”  I wanted to throw my phone at the wall.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not see even a sliver of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

I’ve learned a few things since that time, and I want to share them with you.  Here’s what I know for sure…

Even though it might feel like it, this moment is not the end of your life.  You can still accomplish your dreams.  You can finish school.  You can find a place to live.  You can find a job.  I was homeless and unemployed when I discovered I was pregnant.  I had an eviction on my rental history and a criminal record.  But I was shown that help is available.  Cedar Rapids has a ton of great resources for housing, employment, health insurance, addiction recovery, child care, food assistance, and financial aid.  Bridgehaven can connect you with the right people and agencies.  Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask for help.

It might feel like you’re running out of time to figure this out, but be patient with yourself.  This might be a new thing for you, but it has been done before.  Slow down.  Rest.  Acknowledge your feelings.  Let yourself cry.  Punch a pillow.  Write in a journal.  But remember, feelings aren’t facts.  I felt like my pregnancy was the death of my dreams.  I felt fear and regret.  I felt like there was nobody on the face of the earth who could understand the depth of my pain.  It was important for me to feel those things, but they weren’t reality.

Speaking of feelings, don’t deny the joy hidden in this situation!  It’s okay to be overwhelmed, but it’s also okay to be happy about all the possibilities this brings.  Isn’t it weird how life can be so tragic and hopeful at the same time?  Let yourself dream big about your new future.  You have the chance to be someone’s hero.

And the truth is you are not alone.  Even though it might feel chaotic, there is a plan for your life.  This moment is part of the plan.  It is no mistake you made an appointment at Bridgehaven.  It’s no mistake you are reading this letter.

Can I tell you something you might not believe right now?  You matter, and you are loved.  God broke through my despair and made beauty from the ashes.  I didn’t even know how much I needed grace until I tasted it.  I believe he wants to do the same for you.  Splendor and strength bloom from the deepest pain.  I see it every time I look at my daughter.

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Educator




He Knows My Name

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3.

Over the holidays, we were delighted to spend some time in Indianapolis with five of our six grandchildren. This year, my husband, “Papa Steve,” created a video for three year old, Trey. Through an app, he was able to insert Trey’s name and picture so Santa is speaking directly to him. What a thrill to see Trey watch the video…

What sheer joy it should be to each of us that He knows our name! He knows everything about us; we are personal to Him. As our Good Shepherd, He is aware of our wanderings and our insecurities, our needs and our suffering; He provides green pastures for us to run and play or rest as He restores our souls; He leads us by still streams of cool water to sooth our thirst; He leads and nurtures and nudges and cares FOR EACH ONE, BY NAME! We are not just a “people,” we are “persons” He desires intimacy with.

What a beautiful sound it is to hear the Lord’s voice calling me by name! To hear him eagerly calling me by name to walk with Him; longingly calling me by name to sit with Him; urgently calling me by name to avoid a misstep or danger; joyfully calling me by name with such affection and woo; gently calling me by name to accept His forgiveness.

…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… Isaiah 43:1

Be His this year. He knows you! He knows your name!!!
Click here for an awesome song about this very thing!
He Knows My Name by Francesca Battistelli

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

Mission Possible

What is it about the end of a year that makes you reevaluate your entire life? The calendar will simply say a different year next week and nothing else in my world will be different but for some reason, I am thinking crazy thoughts about what I have accomplished during my 42 years on Earth. Maybe you are simply wondering if you should once again have a New Year’s Resolution about losing weight…that would probably be more normal. Perhaps you are looking forward to the fresh start a new year implies, along with changing something major in your life…new job, new house…new hairstyle. Before you laugh, changing your hair is a major life decision for most of us…it requires asking your Facebook friends, looking online at photos and deciding if you will get up early enough each morning to curl your stick straight hair. The answer is no to that, by the way. No matter what you tell yourself, the answer is always no. In all of this excitement, I am afraid I buried the lead. What the new year truly means is that it is time for a new planner!
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This Christmas

I’m sad this Christmas. There, I said it. I thought, that as the season came upon us, I was more prepared this year for the precious gift of Christmas than any other year. Prepared to enjoy, prepared to see and experience the season differently. Prepared to worship our Lord with all my might. Instead, here I am about a week before Christmas feeling a bit hopeless and sad. From news of devastating illnesses, hurt feelings, marriages in danger of divorce, unexpected changes, young ones fighting for their lives, and even death, I am at a loss of what to do or even how to respond.

There is a famine of love that is breaking my heart. It’s brought me to my knees in deep, raw prayer for people I love dearly. As lives crumble around me I have no plan, no perfect words of wisdom, no way to stop the bleeding or help the hurt. All I have is Jesus and I am reminded that HE IS ENOUGH.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

As I think about my romantic expectations from the start of this Christmas season, I am convicted of the fact that I was focused so much on my own experience this year or my plan for Christmas this year. As the days and weeks unfolded and all the sad news came knocking on my door, the Christmas in my mind was stripped away. What’s left is the story of a tiny babe, a Savior, born to save us from the mess of this world. What’s left is HOPE.

When I rest in the magnitude of this hope, again it breaks me but in a different way than the pain of the world breaks me. It brings me joy in the midst of sadness, hope in the midst of hurt, and comfort in the pain. His love pulses through my veins for the people in my life. A love that reminds me that God’s not done yet, no matter what the circumstance and the best gift that I can give someone this Christmas is Him. Sharing Jesus; His hope, His love.

A friend of mine sent me a message the other day. She wanted advice on how to respond to an acquaintance that posted this: “…As a non-Christian who celebrates Christmas, I’m struggling with how to explain the deeper meaning behind Christmas to my child without getting too into the biblical Christmas story.”

At first I had a lot of thoughts swarming around in my head on how to respond. Honestly, there is a lot I wanted to say about this post, none of which would convince this person to consider that the whole point to Christmas was Jesus. So, after I had a moment to pray and ask God for guidance this is what flowed… “Maybe this is an opportunity to share why Jesus is the answer. Jesus is love, love that came down from heaven. The type of love we humans have a hard time grasping. Love that is unconditional and unceasing. It’s sacrificial. Christmas is a time to celebrate that gift of perfect love.”

This time of year, hearts are softened and so many people are searching for more. Whether they are searching because of their circumstances or just for advice, the message of His love can be transformative. We can try to fix people or their circumstances or we can offer them hope. We can try to give our advice or we can offer them the true gift this Christmas; the love of Christ. Who is God calling you to be an instrument of His hope and love this Christmas?

Lord, I am so grateful that in the midst the circumstances that surround me, that you are in control. I do not have to fix them, nor do I have all the right answers. I am simply called to share your love and hope with those you send across my path. I pray for hearts ready to receive this precious gift. Thank you for the assignment and for the words to speak to hearts in need this season. Amen.
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Who do you trust?

Think of someone in your life who you trust…like, really trust. Is there someone who makes you feel completely safe and secure? Could you call them in the middle of the night and they would be right there to listen? I imagine this someone is approachable, warm and sincere. Are they a person who keeps promises and never falters? This is how Christ desires us to view our relationship with Him, as well.

He wants us to know without a shadow of doubt He is someone we can trust fully, with our whole hearts, minds, and souls, even when it may be hard, it might hurt, or we feel uncertain. In fact, those same moments are when He can reveal Himself even more fully to us than He ever has before, if we are willing to allow Him in. He is able to do far more than we can ever imagine for ourselves, but we have to be willing to trust Him and to believe He is who He says He is. We must enter into a reciprocal relationship with Him. Even if you feel you aren’t quite there yet, feel like you are too far gone, or maybe you are so close to allowing Him in, this Advent season may be a great time to reflect and consider the wondrous possibilities of trusting Him. Trusting Him in the very same ways you trust “your person.”

I want to share with you all something called Litany of Trust. I pray it speaks to each of you in very profound ways, no matter where you are on your journey. I pray some of these lines may be ones that spark your desire to fully trust what Christ has in store for you. I pray you soak in all that these words have to offer in our requests to Him. Trust and time go hand in hand, so allow God to meet you exactly where you are today.

Litany of Trust
-written by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, Sister of Life

From the belief that
I have to earn Your love

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security
that I have what it takes

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You
will leave me more destitute

Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of
Your words and promises

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against
childlike dependency on You

Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances
in accepting Your will

Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future
Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive
preoccupation with the past

Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking
in the present moment

Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love
and presence

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked
to give more than I have

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life
has no meaning or worth

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands
Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement
Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me
sustaining me, loving me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my
sins and failings, and transforms me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow
brings is an invitation to lean on You

Jesus, I trust in you.
That you are with me in my suffering
Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own,
will bear fruit in this life and the next

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan,
that You are present in Your Church

Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better
than anything else

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me and in
Your goodness always respond to me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept
forgiveness and to forgive others

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength
I need for what is asked

Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God
Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one
Jesus, I trust in you.