Monday, June 27, 2016

The Supreme Court's decision: from the eyes of a victim.

In the wake of this landmark decision by the Supreme Court in favor of "women's rights" I've decided to "come out" so to speak, so that maybe those who are convinced that this decision is a huge victory for our country and women in this country will finally see abortion how I see it. From the eyes of a victim of rape, and a mother to a "product" of rape.

Other than myself, my attacker, and 2 very close friends no one knows this secret I've been hiding for over a year. Not my parents, not my siblings, and I will probably never tell my beautiful, and perfect 9 month old "product". I decided to stay silent for fear of this man coming back to try and hurt me again in vengeance of me seeking justice. Although, I would not call him a "man", he was a coward.

I'm not going to sugar-coat this. I'm going to be 100% truthful and real, not because I want your pity, but because I want you to be educated.

It was just a normal night out with friends, 2 beers with the girls and 1 shot bought by some random guys at the bar. But then it wasn't so normal.

Now being a not-so-Kardashian-sized individual (I've got curves y'all), and being 1/2 German, that small amount of alcohol over the course of the 4.5 hours we were at the bar should not have affected me the way it did.

The rest was a blur.

When I finally "came to" I was in the back of some car, completely un-dresssed and there he was- a guy I had met in the bar, and the man I still fear to this day.

I drove home (somehow) and immediately got into the shower and noticed the bruises all over my body. From being held down and pushed around in order for this "man" to get what he wanted- against my will.

Two months later I discovered what I feared- I was pregnant with my attacker's child. And from that moment on I created a string of lies so that if someone asked me who it was I'd have an answer, a made up answer, but an answer so that no one would ask any questions that would reveal the truth. But the truth has been eating at me since that night.

I was forced to make a decision- adoption or keep the baby.

You notice how abortion isn't on that list? That is because it was never, and should NEVER be an option. This precious baby was the result of a horrible, and terrifying circumstance, but this baby was not to blame for that. I knew that regardless of my decision my life was going to change.

So before you preach to me about "well, what if...?" or "it is the Woman's right to choose", just don't. Because here I am, the perfect answer to the example I've heard time and time again "well, what if the woman was raped? She should get to choose!".

And you're right, she should get to choose. But not whether or not that baby should live, whether or not she wants this tremendous blessing in her life, or if she'd like to bless another family with this precious gift.

So that brings me to today. This landmark decision by the Supreme Court striking down Texas's HB2 which would cause 75% of abortion clinics here, in Texas, to close.

Obviously, I was hoping, and praying for this bill to be upheld so that the closing of these clinics would allow women to research other options than abortion but, we know how that ended.

So here I am, out loud and proud (how fitting following "Pride weekend"). I want people to know that this victim survivor is done being silent. I'm here telling those who have never gone through something like this that abortion is not a "woman's right", LIFE is every human's right- including that unborn HUMAN, whether that human is male, female, straight, gay, black, white, etc. They deserve their chance to choose.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I prayed every night that my child came out looking like me and not having any resemblance to this "man". And I'd be lying that some days when I look at her I am reminded of that night, and I am reminded of how I tracked him down to tell him I was pregnant, and how he acted like he wanted to be a part of her life at first, and then the next day threw me against a wall and threatened to kill me and my child. I'd be lying if I didn't say I've considered going "after him" for child support, or seeking other assistance from the government because being a single mom that is also a full-time college student isn't easy, or very lucrative. But I didn't. And I won't. I CHOOSE to do it on my own and not be another streotype "living off of the government".

I CHOSE life for my precious little "product". Even though I had every grounds to terminate the pregnancy. Hell, I could have killed my baby, told my story and been deemed a hero.

But here I am, a year and a half later, stressed out of my mind, constantly tired, feeling like I'm always failing at life, or motherhood, but I will never regret my decision to CHOOSE to give this precious angel life. One little smile and I'm reminded that after every storm, comes the sun. And my little ray of sunshine is worth every sleepless night where I cry myself to sleep wondering if I'll ever be able to give this little one the life and the "normal" family she deserves. I wonder if she'll ever have an actual dad who loves her like his own. Because obviously, her real dad isn't an option.

But regardless, I am speaking up so that those of you who think this decision was "brave" and "amazing" and was a "victory for women in Texas and across America" (quote from Hilary Clinton), and I'm telling you that it's a very sad day in this country. Abortion is not about women's rights, it takes away human rights from the innocent and defenseless.

So take a good look. Here's the face of a survivor and a "product" of rape. Happy, healthy, and loved by each other. I'm happy to know that she and I both have the right to choose, but I'm glad that I CHOSE LIFE.

To quote one of my favorite 90's groups, I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mission [trip] Possible.

Fair warning: I tend to be a little long-winded whenever I am excited or fired up about something, so buckle up.

Now, I understand we live in a nasty, mean world, but if a few people can change it, I want to be one of the few. 

So, this is a story all about how my Spring Break got turned upside down...Okay, just kidding, here we go!

Let me start you off with a "brief" back story...

Growing up as a "church kid", you know, the kid that wasn't allowed to stay the night because they had to go to mass with their family the next morning, the kid that was ALWAYS busy Wednesday night with youth group functions, the one that couldn't go to your birthday party because there was a retreat that same weekend? yeah, that was me. I wasn't allowed to miss church or any other church related obligation unless I was bed-ridden with some strain of the bird flu, or missing a limb. (Even then my mother would probably give me a band-aid and load me up in the car and carry me to our pew.) So growing up as a very active member of my parish I had always heard the words "mission trip". Now when I was about elementary age I believed a mission trip was when all of the adults (and only adults) went to Honduras to bring various necessities and gospel messages to those citizens that were extremely poor. Which was cool, I guess, but once I hit middle school it seemed like everyone and their Aunt Sally had gone on a mission trip also and they were nothing like what I had made them out to be. I felt so out of the loop. I quickly learned that a mission trip could happen anywhere, even down the street at a local food shelter. Over the course of the next 7 years it seemed that I was the only person in the world that hadn't been on one of these trips. Thankfully when I transferred to WT I became a part of one of the most giving, and involved (and most awesome, let's be honest, you know they are) student group. Not only has the WT Catholic Student Center helped me grow in my faith, they have helped me grow as a person! (mainly because of all of the free food they force on you, but also like, maturity wise.)

Now, when the opportunity of going on a mission trip with the CSC presented itself, I jumped right on that pony (yee-haw baby!). Even though I wasn't sure what that would entail, I knew I wanted to make a positive difference in any way I could. Some hot-shot at google defines a mission trip as "Christian ministries that are geared toward mobilizing young people for short-term trips that have a long-term impact". Uh, NAILED IT! Now, with that in mind I will finally get to the reason why I started writing this in the first place- to share with you about one of the most incredible, and eye-opening experiences I have ever had....

(going to apologize now for the lack of pictures, if you know me at all I'm a picture person, I feel like they tell a better story, but Father Daniel didn't want us on our phones that week...but I may have broken that rule once or twice...Sorry Padre!)

We arrive in Oklahoma city after a long trip involving lots of very enthusiastic singing (mainly by Josh...I'm still mad that I deleted those videos) and amazing "getting to know you" conversations. We stayed at the Archdiocesan center of OKC, and man, not only was it massive, that place was a BEAUT! 
(During mass after our 1st full day in OKC) 

(Pictures SO don't do this place justice)

So we had planned to work with Habitat for Humanity Monday-Wednesday, but last minute we discovered that Monday is one of their days off, so we took the opportunity to go explore downtown OKC. 

Our first stop was to the OKC bombing memorial, and man- it was intense. If you know me at all you know that I am an incredibly hyper-sensitive person, so for my sake I'll spare you the details about us going to the museum because I will bawl my eyes out if I even start thinking about it. But, if you get the chance to go- do it, it was really interesting. I will share however, how much of an impact just standing at this memorial had on me. There was just such a sense of respect, and mutual heartache from everyone there. It was so quiet, but peaceful. Each chair represented an innocent person that had lost their life that day in 1995 the Murrah building was attacked. These people were just having a normal day, got to work, started fixing a cup of coffee after they had dropped their kids of at day care on the second floor- and then in a matter of seconds, their life had ended. The surge of emotions I felt the moment I walked through that 1st gate is indescribable. That moment re-affirmed that life is precious, and to live your life to the fullest, and to be happy! Personally, I want people to remember me as a happy, and loving person, and true happiness comes from many things, but ultimately a healthy relationship with God will help you achieve true bliss. Never forget- YOU ARE LOVED! (so smile, dang it!)
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” 
(1 John 4:10)

 (OKC Memorial)

So, day 2. I want you to picture a slab of cement. Close your eyes and just envision it. Well that's exactly what we walked up to (more like flew up to, there were 55+ mph winds that day) Tuesday morning. At first, I thought they were kidding about this being where we were going to be working, but as soon as they started passing out hammers I realized that it was going to be a long, and exhausting day. We started and I quickly learned that I should never go into any construction field, like, ever. It probably took a good 23467346 tries and about 10 people to show me how to hammer a nail properly before I finally gone ONE in a board without bending it. Then before I knew it, we had built a wall! Granted it was probably the smallest wall that needed to be built out there but, whatever, I was proud. It was amazing to see the teamwork that sprung into action. We never had a team huddle where we assigned jobs, there were no X's and O's, every person just jumped in there and started completing tasks that they were capable of, and by the end of the day, there was a house where that bare, cement slab had been. All of the walls had been assembled, plywood was up, as well as this weird blue foam stuff that went around the exterior walls. And the best part? We did it as a team.Everyone had a part in making that possible, no matter how big, or small, or strong, or hammering-challenged they were, each person contributed. Personally I'm the type of person that prefers to get things done on my own. Some would call it stubborn,I call it "independent", but I did manage to learn a valuable lesson that day- don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't reject when it comes to you.
"Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour, If either of them falls down, one can help the other up" -Ecclesiastes 4:9

( The house after 1 day!)

(Our hard workin', and good lookin' group!)

Day 3 was probably the most influential. As you will remember, almost one year ago, Moore, Oklahoma was hit by a massive tornado that caused immense damage.I'll spare you the pictures of the aftermath because, like I said earlier, hypersensitive person right here. I had no idea until that morning where we were headed, and let me tell you- nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Even after almost a year had passed, there was still so much destruction. You could see broken trees, piles of rubble, and storm shelters next to piles of dirt where homes used to be. But amidst all of the devastation were so many beacons of hope. From what I was told by the Habitat employees that were working with us, we were working on a house in the area that had suffered the most damage from the storms. The day we spent in Moore we were painting a house that was near completion (it should be finished and livable within a month!). Just seeing how many houses were re-built, or in the building process like the one we were working on was so inspiring. There was an elementary school just down the road from us that had been totaled. It is under construction right now and should be ready by next fall. On one of the construction fences surrounding the school was the word 'hope'. And man, the whole world could take a lesson out of Moore's book. Not once did they give up hope, they came together as a community and now they are stronger than ever. The bond that came out of all of this is just incredible to witness.It is unfortunate that huge disasters like the tornado in Moore, 9-11, the OKC bombing, etc. are what unite us as a country, but I personally think that they are reminders to be kind to others, not only when something big happens, but ALWAYS! Yes, even when you're grumpy because someone didn't refill the Keurig machine and you have to do it yourself before you can get coffee. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you don't know about- so be nice people!
"'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31) 
I had the opportunity to meet a woman who was across the street from our work site who's house had suffered minimal damage. She told me that the first thing she did after the storm had passed was head outside to aid her neighbors in any way possible.She brought out blankets, bottled water, prepared food, she even said a few of her neighbors who's houses had been destroyed stayed with her for a couple of days following the tornado.She and her family never batted an eye when it came to helping others- some that were total strangers. She also told me about neighbors who had lost everything but the shirt on their back, they went out and helped people in their community that were even more less fortunate before they took care of their own families. In my opinion that is the true definition of charity. 

"If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor." (Deut. 15:7&8)

 (Moore, OK- there were homes here 1 year ago)

 (the 'HOPE' sign on the fence of the elementary school that is being re-built)

We never had the chance to meet the people that would be living in the homes we had worked on which to me, honestly, was a bit disappointing. I wanted to meet them, hear their story, and most of all I wanted to receive praise for giving up my week off from school to help them.But that's when it hit me- You don't do good things to GET, you serve to receive. I truly believe that you are your happiest when you are serving others. And I mean, I'll take true happiness over a high-five or a pat on the back any day. (however, I do still like these, so feel free if you see me) After this epiphany I realized that the sore muscles, exhaustion, even the paint in my hair (that I still cannot get out), was all worth it. We were gone less than a week, but this short-term trip definitely has made a long-term impact on my life.
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
 (Acts 20:35)


( If you read this in its entirety we are now best friends, and I owe you breakfast in bed, or a cookie with your face on it or something. YOU DA BEST.)