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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Back to School

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” — W.B. Yeats

For the past decade, a rich practical way of sharing the gospel has been available for families through the Back to School Supply Distribution program. This annual event offers support, encouragement and provision in the lives of parents and children in the Earn While You Learn program at Bridgehaven. Client Support will be accepting school supplies that will support our active clients in the Earn While You Learn program for this coming school year.

The goal and prayer for the Back to School Distribution is to ease the financial burden and stress for families, especially single-parent households, to promote community connectedness and establish Kingdom demonstrations of God’s goodness.

The Earn While You Learn program is a transformational model that promotes growth, learning, healthy relationships and accountable support. Clients earn material assistance and yearly benefits, such as school supplies by attending empowerment-focused classes (i.e. life skills, parenting, relationship, and Bible studies).
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A Mind to Work and the Call to Fish for Men

Earlier this week, Bridgehaven hosted its Fundraising Gala and I want to share the heart message of the event and trumpet call to be fishers of men.

The Gala was an amazing night of inspiration, praise, focus, and clarity of what our work is in the pro-abundant life, pro-family, pro-marriage realm and the fruit of our labor thus far.

Our Gala theme was “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17

Our theme was so appropriate for the conversations and messages shared from the various speakers. It also reminded me of a past blog I wrote in 2015: A Mind and Heart to Work. I was inspired to write that blog after attending Care Net’s (our center’s national affiliate) annual conference. That year, Care Net launched a vision of restoring fatherhood and the design of family God intended through the means of evangelism and discipleship; truly, being fishers and equippers of men. That vision of being fishers of men continues to stir and build into 2017, establishing momentum and clearer directives for Bridgehaven.
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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.
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Fishers of Men

Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men…Mark 1:17

Jesus commanded the disciples to drop everything and go out into the world…out into the big, scary world and fish for men. Wait, what? What does that even mean? I have tried online dating to “catch” a man but this message must mean something very different since it comes to us from the gospel of Mark. I have had some time to really sit with this verse for the last 9 months since I came to work at Bridgehaven. I swear that the 9 month thing is just a very cool coincidence…

As it turns out, this seemingly simple verse has such rich depth. When you really think about it, fishing is an act of faith. You throw your baited hook out into the water and hope for the best. You can’t see the fish but you hope they are there. Your success is dependent on so many things, most of which are outside of your control. So, you must believe.
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Marching for Life

The following article is by Melissa Ohden, our 2016 Bridgehaven Banquet speaker and an abortion survivor.

“I march.

“By the grace of God, whether I’m in DC for the March for Life or not, I march everyday.

“From the moment I was subjected to a saline infusion abortion that was forced upon my birthmother and I was meant to be scalded to death in the womb, I marched.

“During the five days in the womb that I was subjected to that toxic salt solution, I marched.

“On the fifth day of the abortion procedure, when my birthmother’s premature labor with me was induced and I was delivered, meant to be a successful abortion, a deceased child, I marched.

“When it was demanded that I be left at the hospital to die after it was realized the abortion had failed to end my life, I marched.

“When the doctors believed that I would likely not live for very long because of the severity of health problems I was facing after I survived, I marched.

“When the doctors gave the prognosis that if I did live, I would suffer from multiple disabilities, I marched.

“You see, my very existence is a march. A March of life. A March for Life.

“Each day that I am alive, I have the distinct opportunity to be an example of not just what a failed abortion looks like, not just what the consequences of abortion are, but I have the opportunity to lend my voice, my actions, my very life to demand that others be given this right.

“I was not given the right to life. God willed my right to life when it was being taken by man and by the laws of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

“And so, no matter what the date on the calendar is, I march.

“As I lend my voice to Pregnancy Resource Centers to assist them in raising funds for their organizations and reaching out to people in need both facing unexpected pregnancies and those who have been impacted by abortion, I march.

“As I testify before Congress or engage in political advocacy, I march.

“As I work with abortion survivors around the world, connecting them with support and services, I march.

“As I educate the public about the realities of failed abortion and abortion’s impact on not only women and children, but men, families, and communities, I march.

“As I come into contact with men and women, those who are responsible for abortion decisions and discuss love, forgiveness, and healing, I march.

“As I am blessed to have contact with my biological family and bring the truth about my survival into their lives, I march.

“As I raise our daughters to know the truth about abortion and its’ impact on their lives, I march.

“As I pray for lives to be saved from abortion, for lives to be transformed after abortion, and those within the abortion industry and politics to be converted, I march.

“Yet I know that I have never marched alone.

“God has led the March of my life. And along the way, so many have marched along:

“The nurses who fought for me after I first survived.

“The doctors and nurses who provided me great medical care and loved me.

“My mom and dad (my adoptive parents) who loved me into life and my extended family who has lived and supported me throughout my life.

“All those who prayed for a life to be spared from an abortion (many of whom I’ve been blessed to meet who prayed outside the very hospital where I survived during the very same period of time that I survived).

“This winter storm may have prevented many from coming to DC this year for the March, (myself included–I will be heading straight to Austin, Texas for their March), but I want to remind you that the March for Life, while it is an important part of our pro-life movement, and an energizing part at that, it is simply a small part of our march.

“Day in and day out, just as I have marched for life and others have joined me in this March, I know that you have been marching, too. And I encourage you to keep up that March. Whether you ever attend a March for Life in DC, it is each of our daily marches that I will believe will make the greatest impact on life.

By Melissa Ohden. Reprinted from a blog written by Melissa Ohden, January 21, 2016.

Bridgehaven remodels to improve client experience and prepare for growth

remodelOn Tuesday, March 29, Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center is holding an Open House from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the public to tour its remodeled building at 701 Center Point Road NE in Cedar Rapids. The remodeled space will be ceremonially opened with a ribbon cutting by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance at 4 p.m.

The remodel of Bridgehaven’s building was undertaken to utilize the 1,925 square foot area left vacant when the Treasures Quality Resale Shoppe moved out of the building to its new location at 405 8th Avenue SE.
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VBS 2014

This week, Bridgehaven hosted our fourth annual Vacation Bible School. I spend most of my time at Bridgehaven interacting with our adult clients, so VBS is always a fun chance for me to connect with the awesome children we serve. What a joy it was to watch them having fun singing, dancing, making crafts, and hearing Bible stories! This week’s theme was 3-2-1 Blastoff, with the main verse out of Psalm 108:4, “For great is your love, higher than the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

Bridgehaven VBS 1Each evening began with three worship songs and a Bible lesson. Then the children divided up into groups for crafts, snacks, and games. There were many fun activities planned for the kids. They decorated crosses and created bracelets. They made rockets out of film canisters, water and Alka-Seltzer tablets. And each evening they had a snack that involved lots of frosting!

As I walked around watching the children smiling and laughing, I felt my heart fill with joy. You see, what I want each of our adult clients to know, and what I want each of our children to know, is that they are precious in God’s sight. I want them to know that God loves each of them so much that He sent His son to die on the cross 2,000 years ago. My prayer is that each will know what forgiveness is and that God separates their sin from them as far as the east is from the west. My desire is that learning about Jesus Christ will be so much more than one week in the summer, but will be about a lifetime journey of learning and walking in relationship with Him.

Bridgehaven VBS 7Our final evening we held a carnival complete with bouncy houses, obstacle courses, face painting, a fishing game, a cake walk, and other events. This was a time for the families to come and enjoy some fellowship and quality time together. At the end of the evening we had a grand prize drawing for a very large stuffed pony that was donated from a local bank. There was also a time for the kids to show their parents the songs and verse they had learned during their VBS time. Then I had the opportunity to give a short gospel message.

We had a lot of laughter, smiles, fun and joy this week. And that is wonderful, because a relationship with Jesus Christ is all of those things. Each time I hear or present the gospel in its simplest form for children, I am deeply touched as I remember the sacrifice my Savior made for me.

***A special thanks to Stacey Brooks, Pastor Mark Eades, and the New Covenant Bible Church mission trip students for all of their planning and preparation for this event. It was truly a joy to work alongside your team and to see students with such maturity and servant’s hearts.***

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Amy, Director of Client Support

Amy DeLay

Director of Client Support

“A Timely Awakening” Banquet

We survived another banquet.   I should say thrived, because each year Leanne and I learn how to do things a little better.  Each year, I thank God for his blessings, and it is fun to see how He grows my faith!

Bridgehaven Banquet 2014

Monday night felt surreal.  I stood in the back of the room and I was just amazed.   I was in a room filled with friends… some I knew, others I had just met, and still others I had yet to meet.  The Bible says to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) and it seemed to me like banquets are a taste of heaven.

On Monday night, we learned about the same cultural shift that Andrea mentioned in her post a few weeks ago.  Just like with the anti-smoking campaigns in the United States, it will take a cultural shift to change attitudes about casual sex.  Yes I said SEX.  Monday night Jason Soucinek had us all – all 584 of us – say “sex” out loud.  He wanted us to get used to saying sex and get used to talking about sex.  It is important that we are willing to talk about it, because kids are now being exposed to sexual material at a very young age.  He said that the average age for a child to be exposed to porn was 11-years-old.  Hearing that was scary, and very sad.

I guess I had my own “timely awakening” on Monday.  I realized that I need to be- and we as a Christian community need to be- talking about sex.  If it’s only TV and friends that are talking about sex to our youth, chances are there is not a whole lot of truth being spoken or heard.  If we, however, decide to speak out, we could help young people learn the truth.

Bridgehaven Banquet 2014 Veracity studentsI also learned more about Veracity, Bridgehaven’s peer-to-peer mentoring group.  The group consists of college and high school students who speak the truth to other teenagers in Linn County.  Those kids are gutsy and amazing.  All I can think to say is “too cool.”  (I hope that doesn’t date me.)

I left the banquet excited.  Having had a taste of heaven, I thought about everyone present leaving and speaking the truth about sexuality without fear.  Now that could lead to a cultural shift!  Kind of cool, huh?

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Dawn Brouwers

Development Director