Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teen-Age Pregnancy in the 1950's

After I received a Kindle, I began downloading books and reading them voraciously. One of the first books I read was The Third Floor by Judi Loren Grace. This book, written in first person, was about a teenager in the 1950's who found herself pregnant and was sent away from her family to live in a home for unwed mothers, thus eliminating embarrassment to her family, especially her father, who was a politician.
I remember hearing of homes like this because I was a young teen-ager during the 1950's. I remember asking girls in my junior high school class about one of the girls who had suddenly disappeared. They snickered and giggled, embarrassed, as they told me she had gone to have a baby. I knew nothing about how this happened, but I tucked this information away. I never saw my classmate again. No doubt, she was spurned because she had had a baby out of wedlock, which was the common treatment for an unwed mother in those days. In TheThird Floor, girls were treated with disdain by those in the home where they lived. The supervisors were "punishing" them and "teaching them a lesson", however, it was in a round-about way. 

In this book, the girls lived in dormitory-like rooms.They didn't go out into public much, so they formed close friendships with the other pregnant girls. However, they were not given any information about how babies were born or what would happen to them. 
Each girl in this home was told that whenever her labor pains began, she was to pack her suitcase and walk to the third floor, where her baby would be delivered. The girls in the dorms never saw their friends again. They were whisked out the backdoor of the third floor and sent back home, with or without their babies. They were not allowed to tell the girls still waiting for their babies about their experience.
As I read about the delivery of the main character's baby, I noticed she was given no drugs to help with her pain. This girl was in labor for three days, and when the baby finally came, the nurse asked, "Have you learned your lesson now?"

She took her baby home, but her mother arranged a "back-door" deal and gave the baby away. Years later, she found her son, and also located her good friend from her time in the home.

Times have certainly changed from the 1950's; unwed pregnancy is not viewed as it was in the past. Girls who are pregnant before marriage are given pre-natal classes and are encouraged to be healthy so they can have healthy babies. They receive advice about adoption or raising their babies themselves.

This book was well-written and the characters were real to me as I read it. It is a fast read that I downloaded free on my Kindle. I recommend it highly. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

Robert Whitlow is one of my favorite authors. I think I have read all his books. His most recent one, The Choice, was one of the best. I devour his books. I pick one up and can't put it down until I finish it and this one was true to form. This is another book about teen-age pregnancy, abortion, and adoption.

The protagonist, Sandy Lincoln, is a high-school cheerleader in Georgia in 1974--Bible belt, Christian girl, all the basics for a Christian novel. But things get out of hand, and when she and her boyfriend, Brad, cross the line and have sex, she has to decide what she will do about her pregnancy. Whitlow delves into teen-age life as the other kids find out about the pregnancy, and into her family life as her distressed parents send her to live with her Aunt Linda to have the baby and put it up for adoption. Twists and turns by the author keep the reader turning the pages faster and faster as we meet new people and new situations.

A very unusual event occurs as Sandy is on her way to live with her aunt. She goes into a convenience store and unexpectedly meets an old lady who makes a prediction about her pregnancy. This is very troubling to Sandy, but months later, she realizes that what the lady told her was true.

After thirty years, Sandy comes in contact with a high school girl who is pregnant and she relives her experience as she tries to help Maria make the best choice about her unborn baby. Sandy becomes enmeshed with Maria and more and more twists and turns occur.

Then the unexpected happens. My eyes popped as I read the pages. Never would I have dreamed that the author would come up with an ending like this one. If I told you, it would ruin the book for you, so I can only enourage you to read it for yourself.

Robert Whitlow writes about legal suspense and uses intense characterization. Whitlow's excellent writing style, his gift for dialogue and the unexpected, will keep you reading far into the night. This Christian author presents modern-day characters and problems. He helps the reader to see how problems can be solved in a way that is pleasing to God, but his books are not preachy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Life is Precious

I am a member of a Southern Baptist church, and our church believes in the sanctity of life. Whether it is an elderly person, one who is handicapped or brain-damaged, or whether the life is still in the womb, every person is created by God and every one is unique and special. Every life is known by God before birth and after. David said in Psalm 139: "You knew me before I was born. You knit my bones together" (paraphrased).

God is the giver of life, and we do not have the right to take that life away. A baby's heart begins to beat eighteen days after conception, before the mother even knows she is pregnant. That heartbeat is the pronouncement of life.

My last post was about a book that focused on women dealing with abortion, adoption, and miscarriage, titled Fill These Empty Arms. This is a subject very near my heart. I had a miscarriage when my husband and I had been married about two years. I remember it today, more than 50 years later. It was a heart-wrenching time for me. My grandmother tried to soothe me by saying "You will have other babies," but I could not be soothed. That was my first baby. I loved him or her already and wanted to give that baby life,  and I grieved because that life was gone.

I had another baby, then three more, and all are precious to me. But I remember that first one. Would it have been a boy or a girl? Would his or her hair have been blond and curly like my husband's or dark and straight like mine? What was that baby's life work to be? How many precious sayings did I miss hearing because that baby was never given a voice?

Our youngest daughter, Cindy, suffered from infertility for several years. She and her first husband had been married fifteen years before they were able to adopt a baby girl. She counted the days of her period, had fertility treatments, and cried many tears during the years she tried to become pregnant. Her arms ached for a baby of her own. In my book A Heritage of Faith, I describe in detail our daughter's feelings as I was aware of them while she agonized over whether she would ever be a mother.

God knows every child who is conceived. His or her personality, dimples in his or her cheeks, the color of eyes and hair, the bone structure, skin color, the propensity to weight loss or gain, all those qualities are formed when the egg and sperm unite to make a baby. It's not just a piece of tissue. That baby is a person. God knows what that person will do with his or her life. God knows whether he or she will come to love Him and believe in Him before he or she is born. The Bible says God sees the baby formed "in secret." That means God knows when a baby is conceived. If the baby is aborted, all the plans God had for him or her are gone.

In our country there are 3,000 or more abortions a day. How many musicians, writers, doctors, teachers, company CEO's, never get a chance at life because their lives are taken before birth? If a baby is aborted because it is an inconvenience to the mother and her family, the world might miss the next Billy Graham, or the next Marie Curie, or the next Steve Green.

Tomorrow in Southern Baptist churches across America, adults will study about the Sanctity of Life. My heart is heavy because of all the things I have read while I studied to teach this lesson in my small group. I pray that people will take this lesson to heart, and that because of tomorrow's lesson, a life might be saved; a baby may be allowed to have life. Perhaps an unmarried girl will decide to carry her baby to term and allow a couple to adopt it.

Life is worth something. Babies should have a chance to live.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Infertility, Adoption, and Abortion

I recently read another book on my Kindle, titled Fill these Empty Arms by Janice Hanna Thompson. A Christian novel, it dealt with the problems of infertility, teen-age pregnancy, abortion and adoption. It was dedicated to mothers and fathers who suffered from the inability to conceive, the death of a child, the placing of a child for adoption, a miscarriage or abortion, or the trauma of empty nest syndrome.

We first meet Grace, who has been trying to conceive a baby. She and her husband had been through all the infertility treatments with no success. They even did the very expensive in-vitro procedure, with no pregnancy following. The reader can feel her despair as month after month, she only has tears, no hope for a baby.

Next we meet Lexie, a defiant fifteen-year-old who wants to do her own thing without her mother's rules and regulations. She wants to do whatever is necessary to attract Brandon, the local high-school hero. He eventually gets her pregnant, then leaves her to take care of the problem herself.

Alternating chapters lead us through the lives of these two women, one a settled first-grade teacher dealing with the angst of infertility, the other a flighty young girl trying to decide what to do when she finds herself pregnant.

As I read, I was reminded of our daughter's struggle with infertility. For years she and her husband tried to conceive, to no avail. After fifteen years of marriage, they were able to adopt a beautiful baby girl.

Then we meet Joanna, Grace's mother, a woman troubled by an event in her life twenty-five years earlier, and the reader comes to realize this woman had an abortion when she was a teen-ager. All these years later, she struggles with her feelings, realizing she caused the death of her baby to ease the problems a pregnancy would cause her and her family. She is unable to forgive herself, yet her husband and children know nothing of this event.

Alternating chapters tell about these three women, their lives and their problems and feelings as they deal with thoughts and desires. As the lives of these women are recounted, the reader comes to know them and the pages turn faster and faster.

Later in the book, we meet Reena, a sixty-three year old widow who needs something to do in her life. Her pastor recommends that she volunteer to counsel women at the local pregnancy center, and though she feels inadequate for the task, she agrees and begins her work.

Now everything falls together. Reena meets Lexie and helps her to see that aborting her baby would be wrong. With Reena's help, Lexie comes to realize that in her body she carries a real person, formed during conception, and that abortion would cause the death of that person. Joanna continues to struggle until she finally confesses to her family that she had an abortion years ago. Grace, of course, will adopt Lexie's baby.

The author deftly wove all these women together as she told a compelling story, one I didn't want to put down. The book is well-written and well-formatted, easy to read and it holds the interest of the reader. It lacks the distraction of errors that are often found in Kindle books. I applaud the author for her writing style and her interesting dialogue throughout. She did an excellent job of writing (show, don't tell) and of editing.

I saw my daughter in this book. I saw other people I've known through the years, an older woman who always wanted to be a mother, but was unable to conceive, young women who became pregnant out of wedlock in churches and towns where my husband served as pastor, girls who gave up their babies for adoption, and the joyful women who were able to become mothers because of the sacrifices of others.

I highly recommend this book with its forty-one chapters. You will come to know each of these women and will be blessed. You won't want the book to end, either. Thompson was a very adequate author. I hope to see more books authored by her.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Death of a Man of God

If you have been living in Jefferson County for long, you have heard of Judge Irvin Emerson, who was killed last night after being involved in a minor automobile accident. Everyone knew him as "Judge." He was a county judge and a man of God.  Aged 92, he was an adult Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church of Hillsboro, and he was in attendance there on Sunday, the day before he died..

Last night at about 5:30, a car hit the one his wife, Betty, was driving. They stopped to see the damage and Judge got out of the car. As he walked around it, another car hit him.

Shortly after we moved to DeSoto in 1979, when my husband was pastor of First Baptist Church here, we met Judge. Our church was leading in a community-wide tent revival. The tent where we met each night was on the ground across from where the McDonald's restaurant is located now. These revivals were held during one week of summer for several successive years during my husband's pastorate. The dirt floor was reminiscent of the old-time revival meetings, and people crowded together to hear Southern Baptist evangelists, a different one each year.

Neighboring churches came together for the nightly services and Hillsboro Baptist, where Judge and his wife were members, was one of the churches involved in the effort. A platform was built, about two feet high, for the speaker's stand and the singers and instruments. At the end of each service, an "altar call" was given and people moved forward, knelt in the dust at the edge of platform, and prayed. Counselors were assigned to go to those people, pray with them, and help them with any decision they might want to make.

One night, during the invitation, my husband was walking around, monitoring, making sure there were counselors available for each person who came to the altar. There, in the dust at the altar, he saw a little boy, and kneeling next to him was "Judge." He was praying with a child, and leading him to salvation. He might be a servant to the people, wearing his judicial robe and sitting in a courtroom by day, but that night he was God's servant, as he knelt in the dirt and ministered to one of God's littlest ones.

This visual impression has stayed with us all these years. Judge was a man who lived his religion. People knew he was a Christian by his actions, whether in the courtroom or on the street. Judge entered into Heaven last night. No doubt he was welcomed with the open arms of God, as he heard God say, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant."

Judge, you will be missed in Jefferson County, Missouri.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Beginning--2013

It has been a long time since I have posted on here. I took a vacation, I guess. We went to Texas to see a new great-grandchild and a grandson home from the Navy, then both my husband and I got sick and are still recuperating. But time didn't wait on us. The New Year has come and we are in it, ready or not.

As Genesis 8:22 says, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease." Time marches on. No matter what we may do to try to slow it down or speed it up, it continues at its own steadfast pace.

I think I've given up on trying to make and keep New Years' Resolutions. I remember as a child wishing to change something in my life, and every January 1, I would resolve to do it, but it happened in its own time, not because of my efforts. Then I remember times as a young mother, my New Years' Resolution would be to lose a few pounds, or to exercise more, and it seemed that I never managed to do those things with any regularity, either.

New Years' Resolutions encourage us to try harder, to do better, or to fulfill a goal, but most people laughingly tell about how they did NOT keep their resolutions. So I think I'll just stop making them. Publicly, at least.

Our Youth pastor preached Sunday morning from the book of Ephesians. His sermon title was "Learning How to Walk." That's what I want to do, to walk (or live) so that people will know I am a Christian. I want there to be no discrepancy between my inner self and my outer presentation to the world.  Gene made a comment Sunday that stuck with me: "Whatever you fill your life with controls you." So I'm concentrating on determining what fills my life and desiring it to be God's way and God's will.

I noticed a comment on Facebook. The lady said, "This year I want to read facebook less and my Bible more." I know one thing about that, if I read the Bible more, I will see Jesus' face, rather than the faces of friends on the computer. Therefore, while you may be deciding whether to lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family, learn something new and exciting, or even to fall in love this year, let me encourage you to just lean on Jesus more.

Don't waste a moment. Walk wisely.