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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Why Are You Here?

This summer, I was in Dallas at the first ever Prolife Women’s Conference.  There were over 500 amazing women there from all walks of life and I had the privilege of getting to know many of them.  I’ve been to so many conferences (mainly writing conferences), I consider myself an “introduction pro” at this point.  What does it take to be a pro at introducing yourself?


It goes something like this.
“Hi, I want to meet you,” I say and introduce myself to a total stranger.
In any other setting, this would be creepy, but at a conference it just breaks the ice and everybody gets to know each other.

So, I was going around shaking hands, getting to know the ladies and the number one question I wanted to ask was “Why are you here?” 
Everybody at a prolife women’s conference has a heartfelt story to share . . . and every story I heard made a profound impact on me.

Getting to know people makes conferences a party. The first writing conference I went to in New York City, I remember thinking, “Ok, Laura.  You’ve left your family, paid thousands of dollars to be here, you better make this worth it.”
At times it was challenging, putting myself out there.  Remember the three steps:


These things can be exhausting, especially if someone thinks you’re weird, but once I start with these three steps, everything works out.

So, I was asking the women at the prolife women’s conference,“Why are you here?”
Everybody had a story.
Some women volunteered at pregnancy centers, others were involved in politics.  I met researchers and policy makers.  I met women who regretted their abortion and women horrified at what abortion did to children and women.  If I could write every story I heard, it would make an incredible collection.  I instantly loved every woman I met because no one goes to an event like this for themselves.  They go for a bigger cause.  They go to do something amazing.

After getting to know a few people, I found the cards turned when finally, someone asked me, “Why are you here?”

Why am I here?  I had to dig deep for the answer.

At first, I wanted to say, “I’m a writer.”  Yes, I’m a writer looking for an angle, a writer who has a mother who’s been writing about the unborn for over 30 years.  It's only natural I'm a writer.  A writer is a title with a bit of clout.  Yes, I was there because I am a writer, but it was more than that.

“I’m passionate about the unborn.”  Yes, that had a better feel.  I am passionate about protecting children, any and every unborn child should have a chance at life.  But many people care about children?  Why did I care about children in such a way that I would leave my family and spend thousands of dollars to be here?

That’s when I found the answer, and I was so very happy to share it.

“I’m here because when I was 42, I had a baby,” I said, and as I spoke my voice cracked.  
Canyon and I setting up shop at Merchant Square.  He's my best little buddy.

“He is the best thing that every happened to me.  I'm here to represent him.”

No, I didn’t have a badge or a title from an organization.  I wasn’t involved in a daily outreach.  I didn’t have an agenda.  I had a baby.

Throughout the conference, I became very comfortable with my answer.  “I’m here because I have a baby,” and the more times I said it, the more I loved my cause.  It was enough. 
“I have a baby who completely changed my life.”

I’m not sure if it’s because I used that one-liner so many times or because I love the answer, but lately I find myself asking the question “Why are you here?”  I might be helping my kids with homework or attempting to make a healthy dinner. 
Why are you here? 
Because I love my family. 
Because my family deserves healthy food. 
Because I love being a mom. 
Because trying, even if I fall short, makes me happy. 

I’ve been running for a few months.  Some days I love it while other days, not so much.
Why are you here?
Because I want to be strong.
Because I love my body.
Because running pushes myself to do hard things.

I know talking about abortion makes some people uncomfortable.  I would never want to push friends away because of politics, but to me, abortion isn’t political.  It’s just, I had this baby . . . and I love him so much. 

I want every woman to know their baby is just as special, that if they give their baby a chance they will know what I know . . . that a baby is more valuable, more life-changing and more important than anything else in life.  

Having a baby is hard and messy.  Some days, I wonder how I’m going to do it, but I have this internal motivation deep in my heart that will never burn out.  It tells me my baby is worth it, that I will never regret raising my baby and that in his smile, in his laughter, I’ve found my greatest joy.

Why am I here? 

To love.
To dream.
To protect.
To experience.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

When Kids Come Running

Last week, Mayer lost his wallet.  He’d worked hard to pay for that wallet and when he purchased it over the summer, he was excited to put his remaining change and few dollar bills inside it.  
(Here we are on our date the day he purchased his new wallet.)

He carried it around and I could tell he felt like a grown-up when he pulled his wallet out to pay for a purchase.

A few weeks later, the wallet was lost.  Was it left at a store?  Did it fall out on a bike ride home?  Steps were retraced, tears were shed and prayers were offered, but the wallet was nowhere to be found.

School started and so have the hectic mornings of half-eaten bowls of cereal, last-minute signatures and gelled-back hair.  The kids are doing great and their excitement far outweighs the stress of adjusting to a new schedule and new teacher, but some mornings are just too much.  Tired kids, disheveled homemade lunches, running a few minutes late and before I know it, someone has said an unkind word.  Bringing back a good-morning-gone-bad is like lassoing in a wild horse.  Sure, you can get the horse back, but he’s still acting wild.  Yes, some mornings are better than others.

By the second week of school, the kids had homework and assigned reading and although it had been a difficult morning, the afternoon was proving to be much better.  

(Making homemade milkshakes together.)

Mayer was studying in his room when he came running into the kitchen.  Before I knew it, he had his arms wrapped around my waist so tight, I stopped everything I was doing to hug him back.  With some of the tension from earlier in the day, I instantly melted into the hug.

“Mom, I found my wallet,” Mayer said and explained while making his bed, he’d found the wallet on the floor near the base of his headboard.  How it got there, we’d never know, but it’d been found and that’s all that mattered.  His prayer had been answered and for that, he was grateful.  As my son skipped back to his room, I had to reflect for a moment on the tender, yet zealous hug I’d just shared with him.  He’d literally come a’ running, to me, the moment of that joyous experience. 


Out of all the things he could have done, Mayer needed to validate himself with me, through that hug.  This is literally one of the best things about being a mom.

This is not the first time the glory has been shared with me, but it still is one of the marvels of motherhood.  Even when one of my kids run to me with tears, it’s still the same reality – kids need their moms in moments of reflection, awareness and discovery.  They need their mom’s full attention, physical affection and affirming words of validation.  These moments, glued together through days and years of quality time, through the hours of gazing and bonding, through the highs and lows of parenting create a rockstar-like persona for the mother where she is the one, the perfect one to run to in a crisis or to celebrate a momentous occasion.  It doesn’t mean a mother has to be perfect of even know how to fix a situation; it just means a mother is there as the immovable and constant.  A mother’s love is the fix and the reward because no matter the situation, the love between mother and child is bigger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Moment of Saying Goodbye

In July, mom and dad were called to serve as temple workers in the London Temple.  

My mom dreams of England and considering there are another couple of months of Arizona heat to deal with, I think England is a great option.

They left last week and my heart has been a flurry of emotions.

I’ve been married for almost 18 years, and for 16 of those years, I’ve lived on the same street as my parents. 

Here is the view, standing from my home looking down at her home.  There is only one house that separates us. 

Living close to my parents, well, there are too many blessings to count, but one of the most meaningful is the most obvious – our close proximity.  In a moment’s notice, I can run down to borrow the white sweater I saw my mom wearing last week or she can run up to borrow my crock pot (which she gave me for Christmas).  I see her every day walking her dog Winne and I see my dad riding his bike through the neighborhood.  When my mom pulls out of her driveway to run up to the store, she might stop and ask if I need anything.  I see my dad pull weeds and keep up with the lawn.  Every day, I am privileged to watch a day in their lives – moments as they love, serve and grow.  It’s an interesting perspective and is something that can easily be taken for granted.  There’s a comfort in the daily witness of their lives – the waves and smiles, the offerings of food and borrowing of tools. 

Eden at Grandma's with her cousins.

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, one thing after another piled up on my list of motherhood tasks and I became overwhelmed.  I took the baby and walked down to my parents.  I wasn’t sure what I needed, but I knew if I told them how I felt they would know what do to.  Sure enough, my mom offered words of wisdom and my dad offered a Father’s blessing.  I came home an hour later with a new determination and a fresh perspective on what I had to offer.  My kids smiled as I walked in the door and the contention that had been their earlier had dissolved. 

The night before my parents left for England, my mom came over with some food items that she thought I might enjoy.  We talked for a few minutes and hugged, celebrating this wonderful opportunity for her.  My kids said goodbye to Grandma and then it was time for her to leave.  I walked out the front door with her, my baby Canyon in my arms.  Canyon looked up into the sky and said “Star,” his new favorite word.  My mom and I giggled over his tiny little vocabulary, encouraging him to say “Bye Bye.”  We hugged again.  I watched for what would be the last time in a while, as she walked the stretch of lawn from my house to hers.  I started crying, and had the sensation that my heart my split in half.  Canyon got out of my arms and followed her.  My mom stopped and spent another precious moment or two with him, pointing to the stars and the leaves in the trees. 

I walked over to my mom, trying to hold back the tears.  “I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand how much you love me,” I said and we hugged.   

I took Canyon in my arms and my mom turned back, walking towards her house.  This night sky was dark and I watched as her silhouette started to fade.  She was leaving.  The symbolism was almost too much.  She was there, but she wasn’t there.  I watched her go and prayed with all my heart I would see her again someday.  In a sort of desperate moment, I shouted out, “I love you, Mom.”  She turned and I could see her face again in the moonlight.  “I love you, sweet Laura.”  After that, she was gone.

I tried not to get carried away, but I had to let the moment teach me.  Here I was, so happy for my parents to have this opportunity, but knowing they would be gone for birthdays, Thanksgiving, even Christmas.  But, it was more than that.  It was the moments I would miss the most like seeing my mom at the mail box or watching my dad take out the trash.  They would be missed in the every day moments of blowing kisses and evening prayers, of homemade cookies and compliments of love. 

My mom, my best friend, one of the few people on this planet who would do anything for me was leaving and I wanted to do everything in my power to let her know I loved her.  There are not many moments in our lives when we know they will be our last.  Had I used the moments wisely?  Was there anything else I could do in the moment to express my love?  The idea this might be the last time I might see her was painful, but reminded me families can be together forever.  My mom will always be my mom, whether she is here, in England or in heaven.  The only thing I have control over is how I treat her, how I show affection or appreciation, how I express my love and gratitude. 

They arrived safely in London and start on their adventure.  

I will miss them, but even more, I will love them with all my heart. 

My mom sent this photo, assuring us they would not go hungry.

In this photo, I can feel the love my mom has for my dad.  He is her prince.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Darn you, food addiction

Over 7 months of intermittent fasting has been darn good for me.

It’s allowed me the time and opportunity to see how food has controlled me. 
It grants me the space to step away from food without feeling threatened because throughout my life when I’ve gone without food, my mind and body have felt threatened.
It feels so good to go without food and know everything is o.k.  

An intentional intermittent fast means I’ve agreed before hand, before any hunger or craving comes in and messes everything up that I’ve set up the rules.  Going without food for 16-18 hours a day has programmed my mind to turn elsewhere for emotional rewards, to look outside the food box when I’m bored or happy or lonely.  Oh, this has been so good to me.

But, still . . . when I open up my 6-8 hour eating window the reality of food addiction is still there.

Here’s how my day goes.  I’ll fast until noon or 1:00, depending on how I feel and when I’m ready, I’ll eat some guacamole or a salad or an omelet. Something with good healthy fats and proteins, but after that, the girl looking to celebrate with food creeps around the corner.  She’s wearing a shirt that says “SUGAR” and it’s obvious what she wants.  I give in every single time.

Some days I’m like “What’s the big deal?”  It’s not like sugar every killed anyone, oh, hello diabetes.

As many of you know, my daily intermittent fasting start with a prayer and purpose.  It’s a spiritual process with lots of Godly intervention.  When I first started, the spirit taught me when I craved sugar it was because I craved the sweetness of the earth.  That’s right, sugar to me represented love and kindness.  When I craved sugar, I turned to prayer, reading from the scriptures and serving others, but that takes effort.  Whereas eating sugar, boom, the fix is done.

Sugar!! Why do you have to be so sweet?  I’ve tried fruit, nuts, smoothies and gum, but sugar, you’ve got me wrapped around your cavity-causing, fat-inducing, heart-disease contributing little finger.  Curse you! 

So, even 7 months into fasting, I’m still battling my food addiction.  I’m patient with myself, really, I see how far I’ve come, but am shocked how deep the dysfunction of food addiction can be.    

I have dinner around 6:00pm, again something healthy like a burger on lettuce or a vegetable soup.  Again, a pulse of craving runs through me and the desire for something sweet presents itself. I give in every time.  Around 7:00 or 8:00 pm, I stop eating and at that point, I have no problem warding off sugar, it’s only during my eating window that I faultier.

Even with 40 more pounds to lose, I’m not fasting for weight-loss.  Intermittent fasting is so much bigger than weight-loss.  For me, fasting has set me free, released me from self-sabotage and self-destruction, allows me the freedom to live without regret, puts faith first, think outside myself, dream bigger, accomplish difficult things and live healthier.  Oh, weigh-loss is just another wonderful side effect, a side effect that has slowed down and I think it’s because of the sugar.  I do want to learn to let sugar go.  I’ve tried some mental tricks like going on a sugar fast, but some days I just can’t remember or I put it off for another day. 

I want to set a good example for my kids.

Letting go of sugar would be a wonderful gift not only for my kids, but for me.  I'm trying to conquer this addiction from an emotional/spiritual path and there's lots of good information out there.  Darn you, food addiction!!! 

Any advice for those of you who have fought this battle?  I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below or on my facebook page here.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thank heavens my wood floors never owned me!

So, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed this bump in my laundry room floor.  Funny, I’d never noticed a bump before so I just checked it off as one of those things about my house that was quirky, like how one day my silverware drawer didn’t slide right or the day my ice maker broke.  Things happen from one instance to the next and we don’t know why or how, right.

Life carried on.  These two somehow found a way to get along.  

Chandler had his casts removed.

I moved another gorgeous refinished dresser to Antique Plaza.  I love how this one turned out.

And our little dancer Canyon started spinning.

A few days later, I practically tripped into the laundry room.  

The barely noticeable bump had grown like a small cough to full blown phenomena.  

What was going on?  Not just a bump, but a mound 1 foot deep by 4 feet long.  I called a friend who is a contractor and he came over and did some investigative work. 

He speculated on what this could possibly be - a slab crack, termites, a cracked pipe – all worst case scenarios?  I held on and didn’t let the unknown drive me down that deep dark pit of despair.  Whatever it was, we could handle it.  Within a couple of days, we discovered a leak in the drip system of a front yard flower bed, sealed it off and now, are in the process of replacing the wood floor.   

In the meantime, the contractor pulled up a sample of flooring to find out how much it would cost to replace it.  Turns out, I have real wood floors; expensive wood floors.  I didn’t know that.

The counselor and purchased our home 8 years ago.  It was a foreclosure, so we purchased the home as-is.  It was in great shape.  Other than a good bug service (it had been vacant for two years), it only needed a fresh coat of paint and a fence around the pool.  The floors in the home consist of marble in the living room and hallways, wood in the kitchen, laundry room and great room and carpet in the bedrooms.  All the flooring in my home has been easy to maintain and I haven’t sweated the small stuff, but when I found out I have real wood floors “One of the most expensive wood floors to replace,” my contractor said, I just had to laugh under my breath.  Thank goodness, I never knew.

Real wood floors could have made me crazy, like in-sane!  I’ve known “real wood floor” mom’s, you mom’s who cry out when the smallest bit of water is spilled on your floors.  You’ve yelled at a two-year old's holding sippy cups, I’ve seen it.  I’ve witnessed “real wood” home owner's hiss and moan over moving a piece of furniture.  “Don’t scratch the floors,” and it’s more a death threat than a polite suggestion.  Because I never knew my floors were real wood, I avoided dramatic aging and worry lines.  This has probably saved family relationships and granted me the freedom to have countless parties.  I’ve never asked people to remove their shoes before entering my home or forbidden the small towel-less dripping wet child who just exited the pool entry into my home.  When my new refrigerator was moved into my home, I didn’t monitor the movers like a drill sergeant.  I didn’t bite my nails or hem and haw.  I just let them do their thing.  To my floors defense, I did do my best.  I knew wood floors or fake wood floors needed a bit of baby-ing, like using wood cleaner and polish when mopping, but I because I wasn’t invested in the floors, the wood floor didn’t “own” me.

Now that I know how expensive they are, how special they are, I have a bit more pride in them, but it’s a bit too late.  Unfortunately, they are coming up and being replaced.  I will miss them, mainly because they have been great floors - never a worry, easy clean-up and super stylish.  Bye-bye, wood floors, thanks for being my friend and not my enemy.    

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How I Learned About Ramadan

A few weeks ago, the counselor asked me out on a date.
I love when my husband asks me out on a date! 
He said, “Hey, do you want to go on a date with me?” 
I hesitated, just to flirt. 
This is really good for marriages, to still play a little hard to get.
“Ok,” I said, batting my eyelashes.  “Were do you want to go?”

Let me flashback for a moment.
When we were in Anaheim, California last December, we found the most amazing Middle Eastern restaurant and we ate there every day four days in a row.  The food, with the falafel, hummus, purple onion, olives, tabouli . . . Oh My Gosh!!!! We were in Anaheim to take the kids to Disneyland, but we walked out of the park every day to go to this amazing restaurant.  Let’s just say we’ve both been craving this delicious food every since. 

So, for our date, the counselor suggested we find the best Middle Eastern food in Phoenix.  And, he’d done his research.  When this man sets his mind to something, he follows through. 

Tempe, AZ has a restaurant called Princess Market and we were on our way.  We arrived around 6:45pm for dinner and found the restaurant quiet.  We walked up to the counter and the hostess suggested the buffet.  She escorted us to a wall of the most exquisite food; salad with feta and tomatoes, beautiful rice, meats, hummus, kabobs, roasted peppers and onions, tahini, and more.  The only caveat?  Dinner would not be served until sundown, around 7:30pm.  “Find a seat while you can,” she said. “It’s sure to be packed tonight.” 

The counselor and I looked around and besides the hostess and a few waiters, there was not another soul in sight.  Still, we found our seats, grabbed Canyon a high chair and sat back and waited. I’d been fasting for the day and although I was hungry, I felt a bit out of my element.  I wasn’t about to tell the hostess I’d been fasting and wanted to eat at this very moment. I’ve developed some self-control around food and have learned hunger does not mean starving.  I assumed the buffet was not ready because the chef had not brought out all the prepared food, but I was mistaken.  Something else was going on.  The counselor and I watched over the next 30 minutes as the restaurant filled up with families, couples and friend, all of Middle Eastern descent.  Many were wearing traditional Muslim apparel and I realized the counselor and I were the only couple not dressed as such.  All sat quietly until, not even the children spoke when at one defining moment, everyone got up, grabbed a plate and hustled to the buffet. 

The line was long and somebody bumped into me, spilling a warm orange soup down my leg, but whatever.  It reached in-between the toes of my sandals and I was walking in a squishy mess, but I wanted to eat. I have a baby so I'm used to eating in a somewhat turbulent environment, so it wasn’t something I don’t experience on a daily basis and let me tell you, the food was so worth the wait.  I sat down with a plate of food and that first bite was full of flavor and goodness.  The food was so good, we just made sounds like “eemmmm” and “yummmmm.”  We didn’t even speak.  I went back for seconds.  Canyon’s little hand continued to scoop up food I placed in front of him.  It was the most silent atmosphere I’ve ever eaten in, but just like the other customers, the counselor and I barely came up for air.  This primal environment was unusual, so when the waiter walked by, I had to ask “What’s going on here?” 

“It’s the month of Ramadan,” he said.  “Everybody has been fasting all day.”
Wait, what?  Fasting!!

“As part of our religions, we fast for 30 days from sun up to sun down,” he said and I could barely believe what I was hearing.  Fasting, religious fasting, a practice God told me to do for 30-days (although I’ve continued to do it now for over 6 months), an experience that has completely changed my life, that has made me more aware of the poor and those who go without, practice more self-control, be more grateful for what I have – all these beautiful people were experiencing the same thing.  Everybody was fasting!  I wanted to hug every single one of them.  I’ve never felt more validated.  Wow!  Fasting is awesome and these people get it. 

To learn more about Ramadan, click here.

When my belly was nice and full, I did a lot of people watching.  I watched as a mother helped her child, a couple sit in silence sipping tea, young men eating plate after plate of warm chicken and hummus and I was grateful and still quite shocked that I had the opportunity to observe and understand the beauty of this month-long religious holiday. 

My brother Sam recently went with Lifting Hands International to Greece and took food and supplies to the Syrian refugees.  

He too, had dinner with wonderful Muslim people and came home with more appreciation for who they are and what they are going through.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Opportunity to Pray

Last week I was in Flagstaff and we had a wonderful time.

While at the hotel, I saw the front page of the USA TODAY newspaper.  It read 20 Veterans a Day Commit Suicide.  

I looked at that headline and just gasped. I put my hand to my mouth and felt the tears form in my eyes.  I know many military families and couldn’t image the hardship they go through, but suicide?  Contemplating a veteran’s life experiences, I considered the loneliness, the violence, the inability to see family for long periods of time, the fear, the unexpected, the tough decisions, etc.  My heart swelled with sorrow and wished there was a way I could help.  In the same breath, I thought of the courage and had immense gratitude for those who keep this country safe, for America’s freedom is not free.  I immediately considered my daily 16-hour intermittent fast, and as soon as I had a moment to myself, dropped to my knees and asked God to bless those who currently serve and those who have served in the past.

Fasting has changed me.  Before, I would have felt sad and maybe, if I remembered I would have said a pray for the veterans before falling to sleep, but most likely I would have moved on with taking care of my children; to kissing stubbed toes or combing hair after bath time.  Going without food is such a gentle reminder that I have a specific purpose that day to find someone or something to pray for.  

I spent the day, remembering and praying for our veterans when within 24 hours the story of our five fallen police officers hit the news.  
I couldn’t believe the side-to-side tragedies.  I wasn’t even finished with the veterans.  I wanted another day to ponder my love and appreciation for them when I had another cause to pray and fast for.  Heartbroken, I dropped to my knees again, so deeply saddened with the violence and fear of the society in which we live, almost overcome with a feeling of hopelessness, I mean really, what can a prayer do, when I opened my mouth and spoke out loud to God.  As I asked God to protect the lives of police officers and those of Black Lives Matter, to help those who have lost loved ones, to change the hearts of those looking to inflict violence, to bless those hoping to help, to bring peace to those hurting I felt my heart swell with grace.  I knew God was aware of all those involved and His hand would mend and heal, encourage and teach, comfort and provide, and somehow God would make something good out of this.  That my beautiful black brothers and sisters and those who put their lives on the line every day will grow and heal and find answers that only God can provide. 

My first thirty days of fasting, I would pick one person a day to fast for.  First, my six children, my husband, my 8 siblings and their families, my parents, my neighbors, church leaders and those in my church in need.  Finally, I reached out to fasting for Barack Obama and others in leadership positions in our country.  I fasted for my home (literally for the walls, plumbing, electrical, structure, etc.), for those on facebook who popped on my feed, sometimes for strangers, sometimes for the husband of a friend of a friend, my neighbor’s mom battling cancer, my old college roommate who’s son has a brain tumor, the recent ex-husband of my friend and my friend who did not expect to wear the badge of widow so early in life.  I pray for unwed mothers, unplanned pregnancies and abortion doctors.  I pray for starving children, heartbroken parents and directors of orphanages.  I pray for those who are living and those who have died.  There’s no shortage of people to fast and pray for and I find it absolutely breathtaking.  I don’t know if it’s blessing them, if it’s changing them, but it’s changing me.  Some days I cry.  I just cry because I love that God grants me the privilege to speak with Him.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Making History at the first ever Prolife Women's Conference

Why did I attend the first ever prolife women’s conference in Dallas, TX this last weekend? 

(Abby Johson flashes a selfie!  We love her.)

My love for my baby(ies) and for all babies carried me there. My love for those who have suffered sexual abuse brought me there. For anyone who’s been broken, fallen, felt worthless or without hope, I went for you.  At times, these feelings have governed my world, so in that respect, I went for me.

I met so many amazing people, people from all over the country who support a better world.  
(Serrin M. Foster, President of Feminists for Life, shared so many things about abortion I'd never even considered.)

I met my hero’s, not celebrities or singers from today’s pop culture, but those who whole-heartedly believe women deserve better than abortion.  I met women who regret their abortions and are looking not only to heal, but to heal others, adoption advocates, birth mothers, those who have been adopted, abortion survivors, rape survivors, those born out of rape, single moms, secular women who support humanity, gay women, politicians on both sides of the aisle, volunteers, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, abortion workers who have seen terrible injustices on women and children and who are standing up and speaking out, doctors, lawyers, civil right leaders, clergy, atheists all in support of nonviolence, choices and the very best for women. 

A woman with gray hair in a modest dress had a pin secured onto her sweater.  She passed by me and when I read the words she boldly wore on her lapel, I had to speak to her.  I regret my abortion, it said and I thought I might cry.  In my eyes, she was a woman whose conviction was born out of pain and I immediately loved her.  She was there representing her unborn child and my respect for her felt like a trophy.  21% of pregnancies end in abortion. 

I talked with a woman about her adoption that had happened 16 years earlier.  Her baby, a son, was placed with a loving family and had recently connected with her.  As she spoke, I could see her core was made up of pain, courage, love and understanding.  What a mighty force a birth mother is and I could think of no more selfless act.  Small wrinkle lines had made their way around her eyes.  To me, they represented the time she’d spent in deep thought, moments of heartache, wonder and than redemption.  Half her heart was her son and she would spend her life praying he was happy and loved.  On the contrary, abortion had never been an option for her.  Thru adoption, she could give her son life and pure unconditional love.  Although this woman felt small, I saw her as a woman of great bravery; a hero with light shining from her eyes and words.  Adoption made this fragile woman unbreakable.

A beautiful woman from New Mexico opened up to me about her older brother, a boy her mom had aborted almost 40 years earlier.  Thru tears, she spoke of her love for him, how she feels him near and knows his name.  There is a movement of others just like her; family members looking to heal from the loss of a sibling.  Abortion is a secret that can only heal through truth.  The reality this boy existed, that he had a purpose on earth and loved his family still holds true.  Thru gentle whispers and tender relationships, he still has a voice.  Because of God, his mother and sister can have peace and know someday, they will see him again.

I met a woman who’d volunteered for over thirty years at a pregnancy center.  Before, I may not have noticed such a quiet, unassuming force of nature.  It’s not easy to put yourself out there, especially in this sort of controversial arena.  I wondered how many lives she’d impacted, how many woman and children she saved.  Why would a person take so much time from his or her life to reach out to pregnant woman?  “Love,” she said.  “Because of love.” 

I met Abby Johnson, a former director from Planned Parenthood who for 8 years, thought she was doing the best thing for woman, but after seeing an ultrasound guided abortion learned the horrors of abortion.  She left the industry and has been sharing her story ever since – that abortion is a product Planned Parenthood sells and they make millions upon millions of dollars from, that abortion clinics are strategically placed in the poorest minority communities, that more black babies are aborted every year then born, that abortion patients are most often coerced by abusive boyfriends and even Planned Parenthood staff into having abortions, that the abortion industry is built on lies, violence and corruption.  Abortion is population control and eugenics.  If you can convince an entire population of women to destroy their offspring, you don't have to start a war.  You don't need to build up an army because the women will silently and many on their own dime, pay for their unborn to be destroyed.  If politicians can convince women abortion is an empowering choice, then money wins, a sick social agenda wins and women lose.  

A met a bad-a*#, tattoo-covered, pink-haired, bi-sexual woman who rocks.  She is an in your face, out-spoken New Yorker who doesn’t care what you think of her.  She stands for all injustice on woman and breaking away from prolife stereotypes, will say through secular words, historical studies and philosophical argument that abortion hurts woman.  She won’t say God and faith.  She’s not a mother.  She doesn’t read the Bible, but instead quotes deep thinkers, artists and scholars who have something to say about woman’s liberation.  It’s fascinating and the name of her organization is Feminists For Life.  You have been warned!!
A pregnant wonder woman.  I love it.

A brave woman opened up to me about her two abortions and how through dreams, she sees her little children playing on a swing underneath a giant tree.  They are safe and in the care of Jesus Christ.  When she cried, her tears sprang out like droplets of hope and I cried with her.  For those who have had an abortion or multiple abortions, do not for a minute think you are not loved.  You are so loved.  I love you.  Pray.  Talk with God.  God’s got this.  There is nothing we can do that He doesn’t already know about and have covered.  If you haven’t prayed in a while, take a moment alone and open your mind to a conversation about what you’ve been through.  In every abortion, there are two victims.  You deserve healing too.  You are beautiful.   

I was impacted by woman after woman and wished I could ask everyone in attendance their story and why they made the journey.  Most, like me, had traveled across the country at their own expense to show their support to a cause bursting at the seams.  We are done with the abortion narrative, that a woman’s choice is the end of the discussion.  Woman deserve better than abortion.  A pregnant woman should be loved and protected.  Our societal norms regarding unplanned pregnancy are not prowoman.  Violence has never been embraced by the feminist movement until abortion.  Men have a huge part in this change.  Respect for womanhood, her body and the unborn child must become a man’s issue or we will never change. 

It’s been 42 years since abortion became legal.  56 million babies later, what does the research show?  The truth is not easy to find, but these are the questions we need to ask.  Is abortion a woman's right, or a wrong inflicted on women? Is it a mark of liberation, or a sign that women are not yet free?  Women are speaking out on abortion, not for political reasons but out of concern for women’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health.  Abortion is not political, but at the heartstrings of every woman who has experienced it and every child who has lost his or her life.  My thesis is I believe more abortions than we realize are born out of the injustice of sexual abuse, how it makes a girl feel like trash and how 1 out of 3 girls will suffer sexual abuse.  It will take years, even a lifetime to heal.  One of the greatest tools for manipulative unjust men is abortion.  If he can convince a woman she is worthless, so will she view her baby.    

So, why was I at the prolife women's conference?  If we could sit down, I’d tell you through tear-stained eyes, but most importantly I was there because I have a one-year old son named Canyon Samuel Lofgreen who came at a difficult time in my life.  This unplanned life event was born out of debilitating morning sickness, doubt, uncertainty, emotional turmoil, physical exhaustion and . . . faith.  Faith was what I held onto when my world felt out of control and in return for my small 9-month sacrifice I received a baby.  
A baby!!  

When everything else fell away and I could see through the eyes of love, I knew my baby was worth it.  His presence alone is enough, but the physical warmth of his body next to mine makes every cell of my body sing.  In finding him, I lost myself and away went all the rationality that having a baby would be too difficult.  I’m stronger than I knew and my complaining only made me weak.  When in frustration I voiced out I wasn’t strong enough to care for another baby, something said back to me “Become stronger,” and I knew it was the voice of God.  I had that choice, to be stronger than the negativity, the societal pressure and uncertainty.  I want my son to know I stand for him and I want woman to know people like my son deserve a chance, that we don’t want to just wipe out such charisma and beauty before they even have a chance.  How many babies just like Canyon are aborted before their mother gets to know how amazing they are.   

In the words of Abby Johnson, “We believe that abortion strips women of their dignity. We believe that motherhood is empowering. We believe that not conforming and giving into societal pressures when it comes to femininity is empowering. We believe that this justice applies to every single human being on this earth. We believe in redefining the pro-life movement to include everyone, every age, race, gender, religion and every job.”

Because of the people I met, I know I’m not alone.  

People who support life have the winning ticket.  
(A supporter for Democrats for Life.)

WE chose life over death.  

We chose a baby over shame.  

We chose woman over corruption.  We chose to give our time, money and prayers to pregnancy centers and adoption agencies instead of Planned Parenthood.  

I’m so thankful for Abby Johnson had the tenacity and vision (and can survive off of so little sleep) that should could put the first ever Prolife Women’s conference on the map.  I believe we made history and what an honor it was to be there.  For my son, for my children, out of my love for others I will do my part, even for the one—especially for the one. 

If you do not agree with me, that's alright.  I appreciate your willlingness to read about my experience.  I love all women and feel the political divide projected on us by the media and politicians is harmful.  I love you.

I’m working on a book called WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE? and have extended the deadline for you to submit your story.

WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE? is a collection of stories about girls who faced an unplanned pregnancy and what they decided to do about it. Some may have kept the baby while others may have placed their baby up for adoption or terminated their pregnancy through abortion. Because many aspects of unplanned pregnancy aren’t talked about, I’m hoping these stories will open the door and help someone in the same situation.
If you want to help, here’s what you can do:
Write your story. This can be done the same way you would write a journal or diary entry. Write about how you felt and how your story progressed. Share what ever you feel. There is no judgment here. Remember, your story may be just what someone else needs to read.
Stories can be submitted anonymously or you can request names be changed. You can email stories to Please submit your story as soon as possible. By submitting your story, I reserve the right to have your story in WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE?

Also, if you know someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy, please pass this information on to them. Feel free to contact me is you have any questions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Intermittent fasting – 5 months later

I wrote my memoir Starving Girl – my 30-day experience with the miracle of intermittent fasting in 30 days. 

Every day, I took time to journal how I felt about what I was doing, the challenges, rewards and impressions.  I wrote about hunger, body image and overcoming negative self-talk.  I was in uncharted territories, I mean me, the girl who loved eating and had been overweight most of her life was going without food for 16 hours a day and writing about it.  I was no expert on fasting, prayer or weight-loss.  All I knew about fasting was what I’d been taught by my Christian parents as a child: on the first Sunday of every month our family skipped two consecutive meals.  The money saved from not eating the two meals was given to the poor.  We were intentional about our fast, praying for those in our family or community in need of help.  With this concept, I was going to fast for 30 days, meaning skipping two meals a day.  I skipped breakfast and lunch and would eat from 4:00pm to bedtime.  Before bed, I’d kneel in prayer and start my fast for the next day.  Why?  This may be difficult to believe, but it was because God told me to.  I fasted on Sunday January 3, 2016, my typical best-effort once-a-month fast when I felt impressed to fast for 30 days.  I was told it would change my life and my life needed a lot of changing. 

At first, I tried to talk myself out of it.  Why would I feel impressed to do such a thing?  Was fasting for 30 days even healthy?  My once-a month attempts at fasting were pretty pathetic and usually resulted in either sneaking something to eat or having a bad attitude and complaining about how difficult it was.  Truth was I didn’t want to fast for 30-days, but throughout my life, through miracle after miracle and blessing after blessing, I’d learned to recognize God’s voice.  I couldn’t deny the inspiration to fast for 30 days came from Him.  He’s the boss.  I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t follow through with what I’d been instructed to do. Even on the most difficult days, even when hunger made me nauseous or when there was chocolate chip cookie dough right in front of me, I carried on. With God right by my side, quitting was never an option.

While fasting, I learned things about myself I didn’t know before like:

I learned I had a food addiction. 
I realized I had a negative body image and talked down to myself because I felt fat.
Although I thought I was grateful for food, I learned most of the time I resented food and blamed it for most of my problems.
I’d exaggerated my relationship with food.  When I thought I was starving, I learned there were people in the world who were truly hungry; even starving.
I didn’t realize how much food I had wasted throughout my life until I went without food. 
I lived in a constant state of either procrastination or rush and was never settled with myself.

Even with God at my side, fasting for 30 days was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done, but it was also one of the most rewarding.

The rewards were the following:

I was able to stop the negative self-talk in my mind.
I overcame my food addiction.
I developed a habit of praying every day, even multiple times a day for those in need.
I turned to the sweetness of the scriptures when I craved sweets.
I stopped wasting food.
I learned hunger was not something to fear or despise, but to turn to gratitude.
I became aware of my ancestors, those who’d lived before me who had gone hungry and was incredibly grateful for them.
I developed true empathy for the poor and prayed for them throughout the day.
I was able to give the money I saved while fasting to the poor.
I developed a relationship with God that literally brought me to tears.
I learned I am a child of God and I believe it whole-heartedly.
I learned to live in the moment.

Oh, I almost forgot because it’s not as significant as the other rewards - I lost 12 pounds.

After my 30-day experience, I continued fasting because not only had I learned to love it, but I discovered a term called intermittent fasting.  Believe it or not, what I was doing was healthy and promoted by many doctors and researchers.  Intermittent fasting concludes there is a pattern to eating and the body runs more efficiently when it consumes its daily calories in an 8-hour eating window.  I believe it is not promoted like it should be because nobody makes any money off it.  Intermittent fasting is free.

I continued editing my memoir; adding additional insights, stories and impressions.  It is now in the hands of a very talented miracle-working editor.

I just finished my fifth month of fasting.  My memoir is done and hopefully will be up on Amazon in the next month.  I’ll have a book launch on my blog soon, but I’ve learned so much more about fasting then what you’ll find in the first book.  The rewards keep on coming, as does the weight-loss so I’ve decided to start book 2 of Starving Girl.  Because I plan on practicing intermittent fasting for a year, I may also write a book 3 of Starving Girl

For many people, the most interesting part of intermittent fasting is the weight-loss.  Dieting is a billion dollar industry and people are desperate to get those unwanted pounds off.  I get this because dieting was the focus of my life every since I was a teenager.  That’s right, for 30 years I’ve fought this demon.  I will share my numbers, although I do this with one caveat:  fasting has changed my life because of the spiritual and emotional benefits, not because of the number on the scale.  I weight myself at my doctor’s office, as I do not keep a scale in my home.  I will not give the glory to the scale, but to my Heavenly Father.

 Before intermittent fasting:

After five-months of intermittent fasting:

I’ve lost 30 pounds, dropped two dress sizes and am running 2 miles a day.  I’ve incorporated a lot more exercise into my life because I love it and my body is lighter and stronger.  If it wasn’t for the spiritual growth, awareness and empathy I’ve developed, I don’t know if I would have ever learned to commit to a healthy eating plan, but this is it for me.  Intermittent fasting is amazing and now, it’s pretty easy.  I rarely feel hungry while fasting.  Prayer is essential, as is scripture study and giving to the poor.

I started a conversation on facebook about intermittent fasting and there were some haters.  Out of maybe 100 positive comments, 3 people voiced negative concerns.  I was told I was anorexic (yea, right!), needed therapy and should not be promoting intermittent fasting because I’m not a doctor or dietician.  Several people involved in the discussion defended intermittent fasting and voiced they had been advised by their doctor to practice the same thing.  Despite my insecurities, I combated the negativity pretty well and only wallowed for about a month.  I wondered if I should I keep my journey private, but when I was told to fast for 30 days, I was also told to write about my experience so I’ll share my story with the greatest of hopes to help others who struggle with the same issues.  You should talk to your doctor if you're considering trying it.  I'm ever so thankful for God's law of the fast.