This month’s prayer request post comes from Ruth, and we get to hear more of her amazing story of God’s action in her life. If you haven’t already, please check out Part I to her story.
Welcome, 2015! Welcome the time of new beginnings! Welcome to each of you, friends of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health! May you be blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and our Mother, Mary, in this new year. May it be for each of us a year of faithful service and growth. May each of us continue to find our niche in the Body of Christ, reaching farther and more generously to serve the needs of our Father’s family. May those who have experienced sorrow or grief sense a new level of healing that leads to joy. May all who feel trapped in unhealthy sexual behaviors or pornographty find the health and support that RECLAiM Sexual Health can provide. May the blessings of tranquility and safety come upon all families around the world as well as our own homes and families! May there be peace, “peace to you who were far off and to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:17 from Isaih 57:19b)
Prayer Needs for January
- For good health and the energy to serve, especially for Bruce and Jeannie Hannemann and staff members of Elizabeth Ministry International, and all Elizabeth Ministers, both near and far.
- For the needs of RECLAiM Sexual Health, staff members, facilitators, coaches and support members.
- For the honesty and courage of individuals who need healing for their unhealthy sexual practices, and for those who reach out to them.
- For the financial needs of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health.
- For those who struggle with marital issues.
- For youth and young adults, that they might recognize the value of chastity and sexual health.
- For parents who fear for the health of their pre-born or newborn babies.
- For those who grieve, that they may be comforted by our love and support.
- For bishops, priests and pastors, deacons and elders of our various congregations, that we might come closer together in greater love and support.
- For our governmental and judicial leaders, for the gifts of wisdom and right judgment.
- For the persecuted members of the Christian family throughout the world. Lord, help them and keep them courageous!
Lord Jesus, You know our greatest needs! Astound us with Your great mercy and goodness! Help us to seek You in prayer and to grow in our awareness of Your Presence with us in our everyday life. AMEN!
We have just come through the frenetic Advent season and waited again to greet the Lord of All Creation who was born as a poor infant at Christmas. Now we continue into the more calm “Growing Jesus” in the Christmas-Epiphany season. How wondrous it would be to watch Jesus grow up, but instead we suddenly encounter the adult Jesus. What a perfect time to recall that “Nothing is impossible with God.” We have come in a few short weeks from a totally dependent Infant Jesus to a mature Take-Charge Jesus who shows us His ability to do the impossible: restoring not only the needs of individuals long ago, but the hopes and needs of all humankind, giving joy and purpose to the weary, the hopeless, and the lost.
Jesus’ ability to do the impossible can also apply in each of our lives. I can testify to it; Jesus did it for me! I must certainly acknowledge my need. What I saw and experienced in my life was the gift of His marvelous power and mercy. “He led me out of the pit of destruction; out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God.” (Psalm 40:3-4)
In an earlier blog post, you met a woman who had been convent-educated, but was now single and pregnant, whose baby was due in August, 1973. This made it virtually impossible to find a teaching job where she, that is, I, could use my Catholic education and previous years’ teaching experience.
Before my pregnancy became evident, there were resumes to be sent and interviews to be done, although the biggest question was basically “Where to hide” until after I had given birth. Living in my parents’ small town would have given them grief, so I visited Catholic Social Services in a large nearby city to find an alternative living situation.
Impossibility Number One: I needed a place to live. The woman I met at Catholic Social Services had just received an invitation from a strongly Catholic woman, Annette Kirk. She and her husband had decided to take in a pregnant single woman as a nanny for their three young daughters. I visited them and it was a good fit! I learned later that Annette’s husband, Russell, was an internationally known professor, writer, and columnist. Other household members included two graduate students who assisted the professor, another young woman who was completing nurse’s training, a portrait painter, an occasional pianist, and a handy-man who was a self-educated former hobo! And three charmingly precocious preschoolers. This couple and the unusual household expected a high level of self-discipline (Oh yikes!) and culture; they were also strongly Catholic and 100% Christian! What a generous God we serve, and whose mercy we cherish!
Impossibility Number Two: I needed an immediate job. One of the teachers in their small Catholic school was unable to finish the school year due to her need for chemotherapy. Unexpectedly, I had a temporary income as well as shelter and support from an amazing family! Oh, Lord; You are so good!!!
Impossibility Number Three: I needed a long-term job and who would hire a pregnant woman? I received a call from one of the job opportunities I had previously applied for. “Could I come for an interview?” No, I’m teaching, and the weekend wouldn’t allow enough time for the trip. A few weeks later, I was again contacted. “Could I come for an interview?” No. I’m taking summer school classes, and my classes are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, (I had a legitimate excuse and was honestly able to avoid mention of the illegitimate reason I couldn’t be there! What an amazing God we have, and One with a sense of humor as well as mercy!) A few weeks later I again received a call. “Could I come for an interview?” (To this day, I don’t understand why this parish hadn’t already hired someone else!)
This time my reason for not being able to attend a job interview was even more bizarre, but absolutely true: “I’m sorry, but I’ve already agreed to house-sit for a family while they vacation at their family castle in Scotland!” (Now really, what parish would believe such a story???)
By this time, I was clearly very pregnant. It was in mid-July, and there had been no other job opportunities or interest. There was no “out” of the situation in which I had put myself, except to pray for the impossible. I began to visualize a waitress job. Maybe a factory job. Certainly nothing related to education, as all those positions are already filled before the school year begins.
It was early morning on August 10th that I went into labor. I was mostly feeling fine. Time out for contractions. Feeling fine. Time out…In those years of the early 1970’s, there was very little childbirth training, so I had little idea of what to expect. There were no Lamaze classes, especially in this out-in-the-sticks county where I was living. The times I had had doctor’s appointments over the past months were often cancelled while Doctor was out delivering a baby. At times, I was the one who caused the cancellations. Annette, the woman in whose home I was living, drove me to the clinic and then to the hospital. I recall her driving up and down hills behind a slow gravel truck. At that point, all I wanted to do was to get that baby out of me, safe and alive, and now!
By supper time, I had delivered a healthy child. I don’t recall seeing her as she was born. Perhaps I had been sedated, but I do remember hearing her healthy cry, and being told it was a girl. For many years since her birth, I have wished that she had been laid on my belly, and that I had cuddled and held her, as I’ve since learned how important this is for future bonding. However, I had already planned the best course of action for her future and for mine: to surrender her for adoption. I feared that holding her and cuddling her would make it more difficult to giver her to someone else.
As I lay in my hospital room well away from the nursery, I could nevertheless hear the howl of a hungry baby. With breasts eager to care for her, I marched angrily down the hall, crying and ordering the nurses to “Get in there and Feed My Baby!!” I saw in the far corner of the nursery a very unhappy darker-skinned baby with lots of straight dark hair. And she appeared to be just as angry as I was.
I’ll stop here for now. God wasn’t done with me yet. Of course there was grieving…., but that’s another story.
Lord Jesus, You have shown Your mercy and kindness to one of many women. There are so many others who need to be touched by Your ability to do the impossible.
May Jesus be praised in our sharing of His love and care in this new year!