Encouragement

Drop-off Lane

God is good. He wants His best for me. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Check. Check. Check. Being a Christian is easy. It is so easy to agree to all of this when life is good…when things are easy. It is simple to embrace these promises when God’s will is lining up with ours. We get the sense God is blessing our plans and life is good. Being a Christian is easy. Except when it’s not. Except when we are also single moms working full-time. Or when we go on another date that ends horribly. Or when we are waiting in the drop-off lane at Solon Middle School in the morning…

The morning was going great. I got up with my alarm and was able to complete my devotional and a little prayer time. K got up with relatively little grumbling. My hair dried quickly and the protein shake was tasty. Life was good as we headed to town and practiced Spanish nouns for K’s quiz. The sun was shining on the beautiful fields…ah, it was a movie type morning. If I turned down the horrible rap music blasting in the car, I am sure I could have heard birds chirping. Sigh. Awesome mom moment. School on time. Child rested, fed and ready for school. And then it happened…the drop-off lane.
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I Will Not Give in to Fear

Our son went through a phase of night terrors and they were like nothing I’ve ever experienced; I felt helpless. The one thing that would begin to get through to him was speaking the name of Jesus. Once I moved past the fear of what was happening in front of me and spoke the name of Jesus, calm and love entered in. Nightmares can be terrible, especially when it’s your child who experiences them. As a parent, you want to ensure safety and protection at all costs. You create a joyful and playful environment for your child to live in but the darkness still comes at night.

The darkness of this world makes a child’s nightmare seem so small in comparison. The world is aching, crying out in fear. When I look around and see the immense brokenness of the humans walking on this earth, my heart begins to physically hurt. Then, I look into the big eyes of my child and think how in the world do I protect you from all of this? This is not a scenario where I can scoop you up in my arms, whisper the name of Jesus over you and pray until the storm passes. No, this is an ongoing battle that seems to have no end.
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Carolyn’s Story

“I call Him the Risen King because He is alive!” – Carolyn.

I have the privilege of knowing Carolyn for 7 months now, she is a part of the Earn While You Learn program at Bridgehaven. Carolyn is a single mother of 3 children and a lover of Jesus! Carolyn experienced a life-threatening situation this summer; she clearly understands and communicates she is alive and well because of God’s faithfulness. She feels like she has been given a second chance at life and she is taking every opportunity to proclaim and share her story with others. Upon recovery, Carolyn shared her testimony with me of what the Lord brought her through. During our time together, I was moved with compassion, my faith rose, and God’s faithfulness swept over Carolyn and I as she shared her testimony detail by detail! All I could do or proclaim was, “Wow, God, You are beyond good and so worthy of our worship!”

I knew Carolyn’s testimony needed to be shared and released! It is with honor and gratefulness that I introduce you to Carolyn, a woman of God that worships the King of Kings!

“Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” – Robert Webber

Dawn Michaels

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

In Her Shoes


As we are rapidly approaching Bridgehaven’s In Her Shoes 5k Run/Walk, on Saturday, September 30th, I am reflecting on the whole idea behind the title of this walk. Our clients’ faces, stories, and circumstances come to my mind, and I am incredibly humbled by what it means to really walk in her shoes.

When I think about the start of the route we will be traveling on, I can see in my mind on our clients who so bravely walk through our doors every day to start the beginning of their journey. Sometimes, this looks and seems paralyzing. There is no way to even think about taking another step because of the deep-seated fear and anxiety that pulses through someone’s body with even the thought of a potential pregnancy. Sometimes, it feels exciting and joyful to walk through those doors to hear the news of a long-awaited dream and desire that has been placed on their hearts coming true. Sometimes, it feels like this was the farthest thing from their mind, but here they are, at this place, at the start of their journey, and they are seeking someone to come alongside them to help empower and give them hope.
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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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Hold on to Hope

Do you feel it? Can you feel the heaviness circling around us? It can feel like we are suffocating in despair and sorrow, fear and worry, tragedy and death. The pictures from Harvey & Irma, the pending devastation, the wild fires, and more. My heart breaks constantly and my mind is consumed with images and empathy for their circumstances. Where is hope in these situations?

Where is my hope–who can see any hope for me? Job 17:15

Then with one image, one story, hope can flood all the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. I do not have this image, but was only told of its existence. Even so, I felt its powerful message as the image was created in my mind and then on my heart. It was of a woman, rescued by boat from the aftermath of Harvey. In her hands, the only things she carried and had left in this world were a pair of flip-flops in one hand and a flower bulb from her drowned out home and yard in the other. At first glance you might pity her for the loss and only see the very little she has left. But this image represents a gift. A gift greater than anyone can imagine or see with their eyes.
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Noah

For many Cedar Rapidians, the images of a flooded Houston bring back painful memories of 2008 in Iowa. Or even 2016 as the city braced again for possible flooding. As we reflect on how the city really came together during those times and we saw love demonstrated beyond what we could imagine, we spent some time in prayer today as a staff looking at the story of Noah and his famous ark. And while I’m not sure we can even conjure up an idea of how horrible the smell must have been on that boat after being shut up for about a year, I think there are even more important things to consider.

As Beth, our prayer leader for the day, led us through the scripture, I wondered about how the family got along during that time…shut up with no sun, no fresh air for so long. I mean, I love my siblings and their spouses but that was waaaay longer than a holiday weekend. It is only through the grace of God all the humans survived the trip, let alone the animals. But then Beth read us a devotional which pointed out maybe Noah’s response to God wasn’t as radical as we imagine it to be. Wait, what? Did she really just say building a huge ship on dry land and trying to convince people there would be a huge flood and the world would be wiped clean was not radical? Now, Beth is typically the voice of reason in the Development area but I was worried she might have hit her head or something. How could the idea of going against all his neighbors and convincing his sons to gather the animals of the Earth to get on a huge boat not crazy? Why did she think this was just a normal day for Noah?
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The Beauty She Can’t Yet See


I knew it had been quiet too long. I walked into the bathroom and found my two-year-old daughter standing on her stepstool, gripping my eyeliner pencil like a magic marker. She looked up at me with accusing blue eyes, as if I had interrupted her on a very important phone call. She had scribbled a thick black line from the corner of her mouth to her right temple.

“Beautiful,” she said.

A few days later, we were running late getting out the door. Despite my asking her a handful of times to go get her shoes, she had not budged. Instead, she stood in front of the hallway mirror, glued to her own reflection. She was wearing her favorite dress—the puffy one from Nanny Betty, the color of Pepto Bismol. Tule exploded from every angle as she turned her little hips from side to side.

“Princess,” she said.
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Life Together

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

God calls us into community with one another and through that, He builds strong bonds of friendship that, for me, have blossomed into sisterhood. In January of this year, a few gals I knew from various avenues of life; a few Junior League friends, a mom I met through my son’s friendships, a life-long friend, and a friend from work, came together in hopes of learning a little more about Jesus. Over the past eight months, we have studied, shared our hearts, cried, laughed and prayed together. We have watched as the Holy Spirit has entered into our sacred space (my living room) and, in a very short time, has transformed our hearts, our minds and our lives. This band of characters, this village of mine has evolved like a great story.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

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When I Stopped Trying To


Over the past month, I have had about five different people, in varying conversations and circumstances, share with me very similar messages. These messages all started out and sounded a little bit like this, “When I stopped trying to…”

When the first person shared this message, I was drawn even deeper into the conversation because this concept was very interesting to me. When the second and third person started to share this same message with me, I was like, “Okay, maybe I should start listening even more intently and become aware of the ways in which I need to work on this more in my life.” But then when the fourth and fifth people had spoken about this same concept, I was like, “Alright, God. Show and guide me to those deep places in my heart and soul. I need to work on these things even when it might be really tough and yucky to examine under a microscope.”
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