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Teens today have tough questions and tough situations. Rachel Greiner speaks to them at schools all over with our Healthy Choices program. Despite how it may feel, students DO open up sometimes to adults they trust. Here's an exchange Rachel had with a teen.
March 11th, 2020
Izzy was one of a couple dozen students in the 7th grade class. She didn’t participate too much during the first day. Izzy was a little suspicious and a bit uncomfortable because they were going to be talking about some “adult” type topics.
The class, called Healthy Choices, was led by a young woman they called Miss Rachel. Little by little, Izzy and the other students began opening up, getting more comfortable and even participating with questions and answers. They all enjoyed Miss Rachel’s energy-filled, interactive lessons and loved that she had a great sense of humor.
Izzy and teens everywhere are facing issues like:
The teachers witness the after-effects of Rachel’s presentations. They report that while Rachel brings laughs and games, the students are learning and remembering. The students wish adults knew that teens “need someone to talk to.” Rachel is one adult that the kids can talk to thanks to Healthy Choices.
Izzy explains, “Miss Rachel made the class feel comfortable even though we talked about issues that normally wouldn’t be talked about.” Another student commented that it wasn’t a boring lecture, it was a lot of fun and full of important information.
Rachel expresses that with Christ and his guidance, we’re able to talk about this stuff in a positive way. We’re able to say, “Good News! God has a plan for you. Good News! You could do great things with your life. You can have healthy relationships and can be a blessing to so many people.”
Rachel adds that Healthy Choices does more. “We’re not just equipping students. We’re passionate about empowering parents/guardians as they walk with teens. The response to our parent nights has been very positive.” The goal of these meetings is to build confidence in the parents/guardians so they are empowered to continue these difficult conversations with their teens as well.
Rachel reached more than 1,600 students and nearly 300 parents in 2019 with a message of Healthy Choices, emphasizing God’s plan for each student. Thanks to your support, teens are getting equipped to make healthy, godly choices through the Healthy Choices program.
Catching Up with Students
We were able to catch up to some of the students who had gone through Healthy Choices and this is what we learned.
Despite the negative headlines, you can see there is reason to be optimistic about this generation! You are helping bring hope to and through them!
One mother reported to Rachel that, “My daughters came home telling me that they were opening up to Miss Rachel. They said, ‘Momma, how come we don’t talk about these things?’ and I told them, ‘Today is the day. We can talk about them now.”
You can bring Healthy Choices to your school or church.
Learn more at Speak4Life.info or contact us: 414-727-8176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Just" a Mom
When women introduce themselves, very often the stay-at-home mom replies she is “just a mom.” The implication in that answer is that being a child’s whole world and running a household somehow is not enough.
C.S. Lewis said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
This isn’t to say that every woman should quit their job and stay home to raise their children. It is to suggest that we place value on a homemaker’s role.
Just think of that title: homemaker. The homemaker influences how the home is run. She influences the tone of the home, the look of the home, what is offered in the home. But if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom, you also understand that you are not “just” staying at home. Very often you are helping out neighbors, volunteering at school and church, carpooling. Very often you are the piece that not only holds your family together, but supports a handful of other families as well.
How can we not place value on that?
And why do we place so little value on molding children’s hearts?
I found one of the great benefits of carpooling is having a voice not only your child’s attitude, but in their friends’ as well. That opportunity is not available once children drive themselves. And one of the benefits of being the house where all the neighborhood children congregate is having opportunity after opportunity to gently suggest another way, to break up arguments, to amend rash or foolish choices.
Whatever a mom’s status is outside the home, their value in the home is beyond measurement. Though the payment is delayed for years (and years and years), the payout is considerable. In the short term you experience and create memories. In the long term your hard work will hopefully produce the loving leaders you are trying to rear.
No one is “just” a mom. You are a molder of children, a teacher of manners, and the first glimpse of Christ your children see. And as I’ve realized throughout the years, most of the other roles I am and can be covered by someone else, but my children have only one mom. And that means you are priceless.
This blog was written by Amber Albee Swenson.
One Hundred Things
Ask any mother any day of the week and she’s likely to tell you she has “a hundred things to do!”
Every day we do countless small things. We get out of bed, make coffee, cuddle our infant, feed the toddler, read to the bigger kids. If your children are older, as mine are, you take a child to work, pick up an item for another, stay up to make sure everyone makes curfew, (and text them when they don’t). We scrub toilets, make meals, run errands, weed the yard. And hopefully every day we pray, read the Bible and worship.
It’s easy to count the big things. It’s what we report at the end of the day. Today I got groceries, made supper, paid the bills. Sometimes we forget how much the little things matter. How do you answer the phone or respond to the unwanted interruption in the day? What words do you say underneath your breath? How do you talk about the neighbor or relative behind closed doors? And what do you say about those who hurt you, go out of their way to annoy you, or blatantly hate you?
While the big things, like how our child behaves at bedtime or in church or when people are over, are important and learned, equally important is what is going on in their heart. How they react to friends who’ve hurt them or want to borrow something from them reveals what is inside. But it is also learned. They see how we respond to someone cutting us off in traffic, and the person who budges in front of us in line at the grocery store. When we get the phone call with worrisome news they see how we worry and stress, making the whole house tense, or how we gather our kids to pray. And when something good happens they see how we celebrate our good fortune, how we boast and put others down, or how we give glory to God. Our word choices become our children's word choices; the little things we do each day become their way of life.
Next time you answer you have a hundred things to do, think about the way you do the hundred things you do each day. Think of what you do when no one but your family is watching. Consider your music and entertainment choices. And consider what you could do better. Here’s my list: spend time in the word. Let His praise be on your lips. Make prayer your first resort. Invite your children into the dilemmas and point out how God is working. Tell them when you are waiting and trusting the Lord for answers you aren’t yet seeing. Watch your tone. Think before you speak. Apologize. Forgive.
These are the things that mold our children into who they will be and determine if they will be of the world or in the world but set apart.
Inside the Ultrasound Suite
Introducing ultrasounds to our pregnancy clinic has been extremely beneficial for our life-saving ministry. Through this free and confidential service, clients have been empowered to make life-affirming decisions and bond with their babies. To understand ultrasounds, and their role in our mission, we spoke with the expert, Beth Hildenbrand.
Beth serves as the Clinic Coordinator and sonographer. We asked her about her experience inside the ultrasound suite and she provided plenty of insight!
What sparked your interest in sonography?
“I had an interest in health care, so I began to research my options. When I came across sonography, it felt like a natural fit. This career could incorporate my love for problem-solving and give my compassionate heart a focus as I helped patients. Soon after coming to that realization, I enrolled in a program to become certified.”
Were you always interested in obstetric sonography?
“No. When I first enrolled, my intent was to focus on cardiac patients through echo sonography. God, as He tends to do, had different plans. I was friends with Vicki Raddant (a longtime volunteer) through church and she invited me to tour the offices at WELS Lutherans for Life. This was my first touch with the organization. While I was on the tour, I met Peter Georgson, the Executive Director. I noticed a poster behind him that listed the organization’s goals for the next ten years. Adding ultrasounds was on the list, and it made me reconsider. I went home and felt that God had put this on my heart for a reason. I changed programs that evening. Looking back, it still amazes me that God used such a small interaction to make such a big impact on my life.”
When did you begin working for WELS Lutherans for Life?
“Once I graduated from the sonography program, I worked in a hospital before transitioning to WELS Lutherans for Life. When I first started in 2014, I was in an administrative role.”
Tell us about your role in the medical conversion.
“The conversations about becoming a medical facility began before I arrived, but the vision started to become a reality in the spring of 2016. I began investigating various avenues, collecting information, and comparing models of other centers that provided ultrasounds. Pam Mankse was integral in this process and really helped coordinate these efforts. By the fall of 2017, we were performing ultrasounds on clients.”
What have you learned through your role?
“I am constantly amazed at how being kind can make such an impact. We have so many clients compliment us on our service and compassionate staff, it really makes me realize that they have not experienced the same elsewhere. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and I am glad that we can provide our clients with a positive experience.”
What makes sonography unique in a pregnancy center setting?
Generally, when you are performing obstetric sonography, you are working with patients that are excited to be pregnant. They wanted to have a baby, and because they have been practicing pre-natal care and seeing a doctor regularly, they know what to expect. This is not what we tend to experience in a pregnancy center. Sometimes clients are unsure what to expect during an ultrasound. So much discourse exists on the topic that I think they envision a random clump of cells appearing. Then, when a heartbeat is detected or the shape of the body is clearly visible, they are taken aback. Watching them see their baby for the first time and see it become real for them is amazing.”
Explain the difference between our clinic and the hospital.
“Clients come to our clinic to confirm a pregnancy and receive a due date. This initial screening allows them to process their pregnancy in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Then, if they choose to carry, we refer them to a doctor if they do not have one. Once they have established care with a doctor, they can have additional ultrasounds. These usually include one at the end of the first trimester to check for chromosomal abnormalities and one at 20 weeks to look at the fetal anatomy and find the sex.
Of course, our clients can come back for another ultrasound for reassurance, but they will receive more information through their doctor.”
Explain the role of a doctor for our clinic.
Dr. Matthew Lee serves as an Obstetric Consultant for our clinic. Once the ultrasound images are uploaded, he reviews them to ensure the pregnancy is in the uterus, the fetus is developing correctly, confirm the heart rate, address areas of concern, and verify the measurements. Once he has reviewed the images, he can sign off and it becomes an official ultrasound report.”
What makes your job the most challenging?
“Knowledge that this may be the last time the baby on the monitor is seen. Realizing that some of these babies are not acknowledged or seen as valuable breaks my heart. Examining an excited mom and not finding a heartbeat is also extremely difficult. Having to tell her that she miscarried is absolutely heartbreaking.”
What makes your job fulfilling?
“I love being on a team that offers support. Sometimes women come to us and are unsure of how they should react to pregnancy. Society sees unplanned pregnancies as a problem, so giving her permission to be excited and empowering her through our services is incredible.”
There are so many things I should express to you today, but the English language only has so many words. Truth be told, there will never be an adequate way to share my feelings. There will never be enough “I love yous” to convey how much I care, or enough “thank yous” to demonstrate how grateful I am. Even so, I have decided to try and do you justice in this letter.
Mom, thank you for your big bear hugs. Thanks for wrapping me in your arms and holding me close. Thank you for the happy embraces and the sad ones. You are a constant source of comfort.
Thank you for countless pep talks and endless support. Thank you for standing on my sidelines, both literally and figuratively. You were my first (and loudest) cheerleader.
Thank you for helping me with homework and seeing past my frustration. Thank you for instilling a love for education within me and always encouraging me to learn more. You were my favorite teacher (but please, don’t tell the others).
Thank you for kissing the cuts on my fingers and bandaging my scrapes. Thank you for drying my tears and sending me back on my bicycle. Without you, I would have never learned the importance of rising after the fall.
Thank you for sharing a wealth of knowledge and understanding the value of your wisdom. Though there were times (hello, teenage years) when I pretended I didn’t want it, your advice was always appreciated. Now, I share many of those words when my advice is solicited.
Thank you for always having my best interests at heart and guiding me. Thank you for knowing my needs and understanding my desires. You know me better than I know myself most times.
Thank you for teaching me to say my prayers and for reading me Bible stories. Thank you for singing “Jesus Loves Me” and practicing my memory work with me. You taught me about my Savior and helped form the foundation of my faith.
Mom, thank you for being you.
Your Loving Child
Pregnancy centers have earned an unfair, ugly reputation among members of the media. Many major news outlets have chosen to label these centers as deceptive. Learning about pregnancy centers through a variety of unnamed sources, journalists claim that they spread misinformation and provide unwanted advice. Painted as cruel and manipulative, those not familiar with pregnancy centers might envision a villainous organization.
The Huffington Post describes pregnancy centers as, “faith-based, anti-choice organizations that masquerade as medical facilities in order to trick people who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies. West Virginia is burdened with 34 of these fake clinics.” Meanwhile, Allure magazine wrote, “But these centers also resort to manipulation or even outright deception to prevent people from accessing abortion care, obscuring their religious affiliation, spreading health misinformation, and failing to inform clients of the full range of reproductive options available to them.”
Understanding that these claims can influence opinions of pregnancy care centers, WELS Lutherans for Life wanted to take the opportunity to respond. Listed below are three common myths associated with pregnancy care centers and the truth about each of them.
Myth One: Pregnancy Centers Are Unauthorized to Provide Medical Care
Women who visit pregnancy centers are offered a variety of services. These may include pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, medical referrals, post-abortion support, parenting classes, and material assistance. Clients receive these services for free, and their privacy is protected according to regulations set forth by HIPPA. Those performing medical services are trained professionals, and centers operate under the medical license of a practicing physician, who oversees the medical care being provided.
Myth Two: Pregnancy Centers Lie to Women About Abortion
Advocates talk with the clients, learn more about their story, and review their options. Information on pregnancy and abortion is provided. The material is medically and scientifically accurate and is designed to be educational. Pregnancy centers do not refer clients to abortion clinics, but they do provide information on the procedure. They review the abortion process for each trimester and discuss what to expect during an appointment. Just because these centers do not give abortion referrals does not mean they lie to women. Clients are fully aware of their right to abortion via the supreme court decision in Roe V. Wade and can locate an abortion provider by performing a simple Google search. Pregnancy centers present clients with information regarding all of their options and then allow clients to make an informed decision.
Myth Three: Pregnancy Centers Deceive Women Regarding the Impact of Abortion
The physical and emotional impact of abortion has been debated between pro-life and pro-choice groups for decades. Pro-life groups have provided examples of women who have experienced physical side effects and emotional stress following an abortion, and pro-choice groups have said these situations have been dramatized. The trouble with the latter statement is that they cannot, as they claim, disprove every woman’s experience. Even if only one woman admitted to experiencing mental duress or physical pain, there would still be a reason to discuss the possible implications of having an abortion. Given that many pregnancy centers provide post-abortion support, they have seen the impact it has on women and they share these experiences with their clients. When pregnancy centers discuss these situations, they are not implying that everyone will have the same experience, they are simply informing clients of the risks involved.
These myths, which the media perpetuates, are not only inaccurate; they are harmful to women seeking help. Pregnancy care centers, like the one operated by WELS Lutherans for Life, provide women with free and confidential care. They offer accurate information and support through the decision-making process. By blacklisting these centers, the media is limiting the options for women facing unplanned pregnancies and discouraging them from seeking compassionate care.
While it is unlikely that the media will stop making these attacks, there is hope that women will see beyond these unfounded, scathing claims. Pregnancy centers have grown rapidly and they now outnumber abortion clinics in the United States by a 3 to 1 ratio. Client satisfaction among these clinics is tremendously high and client reviews are consistently positive. Between Care Net and Heartbeat International (the leading affiliate organizations for pregnancy centers), over two million families are served on an annual basis. These pregnancy centers are thriving. So, let the media say what they will, because they cannot stop these organizations from empowering women.
Family Films for a Snowy Saturday
Meteorologists are calling for snow tomorrow (yes, again), and the opportunities to get outside may be limited. Understanding how challenging this can be for the family, we have compiled a small list of family-friendly movies that are perfect for a cozy day indoors!
1.) The Parent Trap
This story of twins separated at birth is a classic. Starring Lindsay Lohan (or Hayley Mills, if you prefer), it details twin daughters that accidentally meet at summer camp and scheme to reunite their parents. The girls’ antics will keep you laughing and the ending will warm your heart. If your children haven’t seen it, you will be introducing them to an instant favorite; and if they have, they will love re-watching! (Rating: PG)
2.) The Sandlot
This movie will make you feel all kinds of nostalgia. Remembering the time when kids would spend all day playing outside and your best friends were families from your neighborhood, the Sandlot is the story of the ultimate pickle. Telling the story of neighborhood boys who spend all day on the local baseball field, one of them gets them in trouble when he sends his step-father’s baseball, signed by Babe Ruth, over the fence of a beast. The plot they devise to retrieve the ball results in hilarity and an unlikely friendship. This movie will teach lessons in friendship, honesty, and dreaming big. Plus, it will have you dreaming of summer! (Rating: PG)
This cute movie follows Judy Hopps, a rabbit who is trying to make it big as a police officer. She takes on a missing person case and enlists help from an unusual ally, a fox named Nick Wilde. Throughout the film, the pair works to solve the mystery and prove they are capable. While seemingly lighthearted and fun, this movie has a deeper meaning and will provide the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with your kids! (Rating: PG)
Sometimes you just need a little magic! Matilda details the story of a young girl who is misunderstood by her family. Matilda discovers that she has a secret set of powers, and while she mostly uses these to benefit others, she doesn’t fail to have fun herself! She is the ultimate heroine and you will find yourself cheering for her as she searches for love and understanding! (Rating: PG)
5.) Rookie of the Year
Henry Rowengartner goes from being an unskilled little leaguer to a superstar major leaguer in Rookie of the Year. After breaking his arm, Henry’s tendons have healed too tightly, enabling him to pitch at an unremarkable speed. This is discovered when Henry throws back a ball at a Chicago Cubs game. Blowing everyone in the crowd away, the struggling Cubs recruit him and he earns a spot on the team. Through the unlikely plotline, this movie teaches the importance of staying grounded and putting family first! (Rating: PG)
6.) The Wizard of Oz
The ultimate classic, the Wizard of Oz is a must-see for every family. Following four strangers who become friends and embark on a journey to the Emerald City. Filled with enthralling adventures and vibrant imagery, this is one story that has spanned generations. Though the friends overcome the obstacles and reach their destination, they come to realize that there really is no place like home. (Rated: G)
7.) The Princess Bride
This movie has something for everyone! Featuring exciting adventures, witty lines, and a romantic tale—this one is a fan favorite! The Princess Bride features a grandpa telling his grandson the story of a woman named Buttercup and her two suitors. One of whom is her true love and the other to whom she reluctantly married. Throughout the movie, her true love, Westley must overcome a series of obstacles to rescue her. Appealing to both adults and kids, this one is sure to please everyone in the room! (Rated: PG)
The Cross Stands
Monday brought news of devastation from Paris, France. The Notre Dame Cathedral, a historical icon, was engulfed in flames. Destroyed spires and ravaged roof, the beloved cathedral stood in an unprecedented state of destruction. Still, among the ashes and through the billows of smoke, there was a glimmer of hope. The cross on the altar remained unscathed, a beaming symbol amidst tragedy.
Standing in the rubble, staring at the ruins of our sin feels like being in the Notre Dame Cathedral. There is damage in every direction. Our relationships tarnished; our reputations tainted by sin. Permanently stained by ashes and polluted with smoke, our lives are much like the demolished cathedral.
We recall our eagerness to shout, “Crucify him!” with the crowd; our enthusiasm to place the crown of thorns on Christ’s innocent head; and our encouragement to pierce his side. Reliving these events, we are painfully aware of the cost of our sins. Created to be perfect, we were once the beautiful crown of God’s masterpiece. Now, we are charred by sin and it’s hard to imagine that beauty ever existed within us.
Among the debris of our lives, however, lies a promise of hope. Through the devastation of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the cross stands. When the flames overwhelm us and darkness envelops us, the cross stands. When tragedy strikes and smoke suffocates us, the cross stands. When fear overcomes us and we are completely brokenhearted, the cross stands. We know Easter is coming.
The plan for rescue has long been in place. Jesus—the one we sentenced to death—has saved us. The empty cross stands, reminding us that Jesus rose victoriously.
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