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So far Laura has created 31 blog entries.

They Will Know Us By Our Love

By |2022-07-12T15:19:32+00:00July 12th, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”    (Romans 12:15-16, ESV)

 

For the past two years I’ve watched Christians debate the validity of statistics regarding Covid-19 (to mask or not/vaccinate or not/social distancing, etc.) I watched friends unfriend each other over their difference in beliefs in this heated topic and now over the past couple of weeks I’ve watched it happen again.  Different topic but same approach – Christians’ adamant on their beliefs and using “statistics” to support their behavior.

In case you have been living on a remote island and are out of the loop – the topic I’m referring to is abortion.

Some will argue statistics that abortion as the result of rape and incest only applies to one percent of the cases, that statistics don’t lie.  However, over the years I’ve sat with thousands of women and heard horrendous stories of sexual abuse, rape, incest.  I can tell that in my little corner of the world – the one’s that had an abortion for those reasons account for much more than one percent.  One main reason the statistics aren’t accurate is simple that most never reported their abuse.  It’s only twenty to thirty years later when they felt safe that they unloaded the burdened they carried.  Some were driven to abortion clinics by their abuser – leaving them no opportunity to speak up freely.  Some had their lives threatened if they refused to get the abortion.

The month of July is annually recognized as Bereaved Parents Awareness Month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness of the support necessary when someone endures the loss of a child.  This month I felt it appropriate to acknowledge a group of grieving parents that often gets overlooked. The mothers who had an abortion (by choice or forced).

Instead of compassion they get ugly things said about them. Now before you start writing a heated response to my blog this month, please take the time to finish reading in its’ entirety.

I do not support abortions – I am not ashamed to say that I stand with the Word of God.

But at the same time, I know that the Jesus I’ve served most of my life is one of hope, love, compassion, and redemption.  Part of my assignment is to share Jesus with a lost world.

I’ve wept with many women who grieve the babies they aborted. The anniversaries of their abortions are days filled with tremendous grief and trauma.  Even decades later they still carry the overwhelming burden and the shame with them; and because of how that child’s life ended they do it alone.

This is where I get to share Jesus with them.  I don’t need to sit there and attack these women.  They do that to themselves enough.  They’ve heard sounds and seen images that they struggle to get out of their heads.  They grieve over their babies just as intensely as I grieve over mine.  While the situations are different the pain in a mother’s heart is the same.  And this month I acknowledge those women who carry that pain silently day after day, year after year.

I see you, but more importantly Jesus sees you and you can come to Him just as you are – broken, abused and hurting.

John tells us that people will “know us by our love for others”.  If I’m always posting hurtful remarks about people who have had abortions –all they’ll know is what I hate – – instead of what I love (or more importantly who I love).  If we want the world to “know us by our love” – there is a better way to stand up for truth than sharing horrific photos and inaccurate statistics on social media.

My pastor encouraged us to “put our money where our mouth is” as our church took up an offering to support three local pregnancy centers.  Places that offer support to women in need.

If you’re reading this blog, I want to encourage you with the same.  How are you showing your love for others?  If you’re pro-life – how are you honoring the life around you?  Are you making yourself approachable to someone whose hurting?

“Our grief is as individual as our lives.”
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes

Founder/Director, Ephraim Ministries

 

The Invisible Father

By |2022-06-02T15:22:54+00:00June 2nd, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6, ESV)

I remember the day that Jamie died there were dozens of people at the hospital.  Within a few hours of the news getting out, there was easily a hundred people there.  So many that the ER staff set up a room just for Laura. Then, later at the hotel people came by in a constant flow to see Laura and give her comfort. All her friends were there, her “sisters”, ladies that she has known since childhood, cousins, aunts, her mother. People from our church (and previous church), LCA (Jamie’s school) and Liberty University were there offering comfort, help, hope. People were hovering around Laura in a constant flow of love.

I sat off to the side, quietly in a corner or outside the door. Close enough that if Laura needed me, I could be there in an instant but far enough for her support team to be there for her. Eventually my chair moved further away as more people came. I was slowly becoming invisible. Unless someone needed me to get something or to give up my chair. I slowly started to migrate outside. I spent my time walking around the hotel we were staying in because we couldn’t bear to go home. Walking around LU’s campus. Becoming even more invisible.

Society in general tends to give the mothers the most attention when it comes to the death of a child. I understand it. The mother carried that child for 9 months inside them. Nurtured and loved them from conception. They become one with the child. When that child dies, so does a part of them. A real part, their blood, flesh. It doesn’t matter if the child is lost in the womb, at birth or at 50 years old. They are still part of her. It’s understandable that, at a time of loss people tend to flock to the mother of the deceased.

As for the father, well we are supposed to be the strong one. The rock for our wife to lean on. The one to stand guard against all things evil. Yet we are not to show grief, we are not to cry, we must be strong for our wife, always be in control. We must be a MAN.

In those first few days after Jamie died, I can only remember 3 people that came to see me specifically. My boss from work, a friend from out of town, and one of my cousins that had lost a daughter a few years before. At first, I thought that my grief wasn’t important, that they didn’t care about my feelings. But when I looked around, I started to realize why no one was praying with me, crying with me, giving me words of comfort. There just weren’t many other men around, and the ones that were there just stood with their wife or girlfriend or outside talking or for lack of a better word, hiding.

I was one of those guys. I understood. I had done the same thing when a friend or family member had lost a child. I was like a shy child standing off to the side with my head hanging down and kicking dirt with the toe of my shoe, hoping no one could see me.

Men, we need to be more like our wives in that we need to be available to be a shoulder to cry on, we need to be the one that gives the fathers the support they need. We need to pray for our “Invisible Fathers”. Help them become a person again. Give them the love and support they need to be the man that his family really needs. A “Visible Father” that relies on God’s love and wisdom to guide his family through the most difficult thing they will ever face. So, the next time you are in the presence of a family grieving the loss of a child, go to the father and say to him, “I see you and I’m here to help”.

Keep Up the Fire

Chuck Holmes

Co-Founder & VP, Ephraim Ministries

14 Years Ago

By |2022-05-03T21:27:17+00:00May 3rd, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Proverbs 11:14 KJV

 

14 years ago, that’s how long it has been since my life was “normal”.

14 years ago on April 25, 2008, I died but God allowed me to return. Little did I know that I would be cursing Him a week later.

Because 14 years ago, on the morning of May 3, 2008, I died again when my baby boy was taken from me, Again God saved me but kept my son Jamie. I was angry with God for doing that, Why Jamie today and not me last week? (For those who don’t know the story, I had a massive heart attack on April 25th).

Why was I being punished? What had I done to deserve this?

14 years ago, I thought my life was done. At least that was MY thinking, MY anger, MY unfaithfulness…

I had been in the hospital the last week of Jamie’s life.  When I got home, I was tired and quite irritable.  Anyone who met Jamie, knows he is an easy going and extremely laid-back person.  As a father it was my job to prepare him for the world. Someday he would be a husband and father (or so I thought).

What I knew of the world was that it was harsh.  I’m thankful to God for the ability to work for everything that He’s blessed with me.  But I didn’t want my sons to have to work as hard as I did.  I stayed on Jamie about school, organizing/cleaning his room, and being on his cell phone way too much.  One of my last conversations with him was an argument about the cell phone.  My harsh words with him over the phone ate at me for years.

Until I learned to focus on the truth of the situation.  Jamie’s in heaven now, he’s not replaying that conversation.  He understands that Dad was trying to prepare him for life as a grown man on this earth.  He knows I love him, and he understands and appreciates the sacrifices his Mom and I made for him.  He was extremely confident in his walk with Christ because of the love and guidance Laura and I modeled in our home.  Yet the enemy of my soul wanted me to focus on that one conversation.

It has taken me 14 years to fully understand why I was allowed to suffer through that and so many other trials. I have regained my faith in God, but it was a long road to travel. Sometimes I felt totally alone carrying the guilt and hatred in my heart, but eventually realized that it was Satan not God that was inflicting my soul. I had allowed Satan a stronghold in my life in the early years and didn’t even realize it. I had allowed depression, guilt, fear, hate and grief to take control of my life. Oh, I kept it hidden pretty- well.

As men we tend to do that. Men have this uncanny ability to take the bad and compartmentalize it and bury it deep in their subconscious. As an Army Veteran, I had suffered with PTSD before and knew what the monster looked like and knew how to keep it at bay. I courted the lair of my new monster daily, not quite letting it win me over. But in time I knew I had to destroy the monster, in order to get back to some semblance of a normal life. I was lucky to have strong men around me that counseled me back to reality. They fed me life sustaining advice from their own personal walks within the world and with God. Advice that was critical for me to survive one minute to the next. Men that even if they didn’t know the exact pain I was feeling could relate through other trails. I now know that God kept me around for a reason. A reason that is known only to him and is being revealed a little at a time. God has put people in my life that I have been able to help through this walk of grief and pain that we mutually suffer. God has kept my marriage intact, and it is stronger now than ever. God has given me purpose though sometimes I fail see it. But that is my own fault.

In time, with prayer and purposeful living, you can get through the feelings of depression, guilt, self-hatred and fear. Align yourself with a person that you can discuss your feelings with. A close friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Fill your mind with good thoughts of your loved one, don’t dwell on the bad days. What was said or done while they were living cannot be changed once they have passed, do not let those things steal your healing.

You will always grieve your loved ones, but it if you keep pressing into Jesus, it will get easier to live your life.

I am still in the same body as I was 14 years ago, but my mind is stronger.  My faith is restored.

If you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, don’t walk it alone.  As much as you may want to isolate from others – don’t do it.

“There’s safety in the multitude of counsel of others” – – you need Jesus! And you will need others to be speak Jesus into you when your feelings are completely overwhelmed.  When you can’t see a way out – don’t retreat men – reach out to others!

 

Keep Up the Fire,

Chuck Holmes

Co-Founder/Ephraim Ministries

 

14 Years Ago

By |2022-05-03T11:58:22+00:00May 2nd, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Proverbs 11:14 KJV

 

14 years ago, that’s how long it has been since my life was “normal”.

14 years ago on April 25, 2008, I died but God allowed me to return. Little did I know that I would be cursing Him a week later.

Because 14 years ago, on the morning of May 3, 2008, I died again when my baby boy was taken from me, Again God saved me but kept my son Jamie. I was angry with God for doing that, Why Jamie today and not me last week? (For those who don’t know the story, I had a massive heart attack on April 25th).

Why was I being punished? What had I done to deserve this?

14 years ago, I thought my life was done. At least that was MY thinking, MY anger, MY unfaithfulness…

I had been in the hospital the last week of Jamie’s life.  When I got home, I was tired and quite irritable.  Anyone who met Jamie, knows he is an easy going and extremely laid-back person.  As a father it was my job to prepare him for the world. Someday he would be a husband and father (or so I thought).

What I knew of the world was that it was harsh.  I’m thankful to God for the ability to work for everything that He’s blessed with me.  But I didn’t want my sons to have to work as hard as I did.  I stayed on Jamie about school, organizing/cleaning his room, and being on his cell phone way too much.  One of my last conversations with him was an argument about the cell phone.  My harsh words with him over the phone ate at me for years.

Until I learned to focus on the truth of the situation.  Jamie’s in heaven now, he’s not replaying that conversation.  He understands that Dad was trying to prepare him for life as a grown man on this earth.  He knows I love him, and he understands and appreciates the sacrifices his Mom and I made for him.  He was extremely confident in his walk with Christ because of the love and guidance Laura and I modeled in our home.  Yet the enemy of my soul wanted me to focus on that one conversation.

It has taken me 14 years to fully understand why I was allowed to suffer through that and so many other trials. I have regained my faith in God, but it was a long road to travel. Sometimes I felt totally alone carrying the guilt and hatred in my heart, but eventually realized that it was Satan not God that was inflicting my soul. I had allowed Satan a stronghold in my life in the early years and didn’t even realize it. I had allowed depression, guilt, fear, hate and grief to take control of my life. Oh, I kept it hidden pretty- well.

As men we tend to do that. Men have this uncanny ability to take the bad and compartmentalize it and bury it deep in their subconscious. As an Army Veteran, I had suffered with PTSD before and knew what the monster looked like and knew how to keep it at bay. I courted the lair of my new monster daily, not quite letting it win me over. But in time I knew I had to destroy the monster, in order to get back to some semblance of a normal life. I was lucky to have strong men around me that counseled me back to reality. They fed me life sustaining advice from their own personal walks within the world and with God. Advice that was critical for me to survive one minute to the next. Men that even if they didn’t know the exact pain I was feeling could relate through other trails. I now know that God kept me around for a reason. A reason that is known only to him and is being revealed a little at a time. God has put people in my life that I have been able to help through this walk of grief and pain that we mutually suffer. God has kept my marriage intact, and it is stronger now than ever. God has given me purpose though sometimes I fail see it. But that is my own fault.

In time, with prayer and purposeful living, you can get through the feelings of depression, guilt, self-hatred and fear. Align yourself with a person that you can discuss your feelings with. A close friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Fill your mind with good thoughts of your loved one, don’t dwell on the bad days. What was said or done while they were living cannot be changed once they have passed, do not let those things steal your healing.

You will always grieve your loved ones, but it if you keep pressing into Jesus, it will get easier to live your life.

I am still in the same body as I was 14 years ago, but my mind is stronger.  My faith is restored.

If you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, don’t walk it alone.  As much as you may want to isolate from others – don’t do it.

“There’s safety in the multitude of counsel of others” – – you need Jesus! And you will need others to be speak Jesus into you when your feelings are completely overwhelmed.  When you can’t see a way out – don’t retreat men – reach out to others!

 

Keep Up the Fire,

Chuck Holmes

Co-Founder/Ephraim Ministries

 

“It’s All My Fault” – The Guilt That Comes Accompanies Grief

By |2022-04-10T19:20:50+00:00April 10th, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

Grief is a unique journey on an emotional rollercoaster.  While we don’t experience all the same reactions, there’s one emotion that every grieving parent battles – guilt.

Guilt is real for – –

  • The parent who was driving the car that was involved in a wreck that took their child’s life
  • The parent wondering what signs they missed that could have prevented their child from taking their own life
  • The parent who upon hearing the news they’re pregnant, realizes they’re not ready for a baby – it’s not the right time – decides to have an abortion – only to go into premature labor and deliver a stillborn
  • The parent who regrets not having more talks about spiritual matters with their child and now will forever wonder
  • The parent who buys the car that their child is driving when their involved in a fatal accident
  • The parent who gives permission for a needed medical procedure. Only to have the child die during the procedure.
  • The parent whose last conversation with their child was an argument

For parents who’ve lost a child – the survivors’ guilt can be an unbearable pain. As parents, we tell ourselves it’s our job to protect our children.  We are supposed to be the ones in control.  As a result of that thinking, when something happens to them, we often punish ourselves, consciously and subconsciously.

Guilt is an emotion given to us by God, our Creator.  It is meant to serve as a moral compass to aid in fueling our motivation to improve our behavior.  To inspire us to turn to Christ in all that we do.  But when we allow unhealthy thoughts to bombard our minds – we can rationalize a situation that incorrectly places guilt where it doesn’t necessarily belong.

As parents we have a lot of influence over the lives of our children, but we are not in control. We aren’t omniscient (all-knowing).  We’re not omnipresent (everywhere at once).  We are not omnipotent (all powerful).  Simply put, we are not God.

But sometimes when things go wrong, we want to tell ourselves the exact opposite.

By leaning on our own unhealthy understanding, guilt can become debilitating when we fail to depend completely on God.  Thoughts of self-sufficiency and self-dependence tell us that we somehow should have known everything and been able to “prevent it from happening”.

Guilt loses its’ control over us when we release it a loving God. We must look at the situation truthfully through His eyes.  Acknowledging that we made the best decision we could at the time, with the information we had.  We may even need to ask God for forgiveness, if there were mistakes made (so regret doesn’t consume us).  By allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to help us learn from those mistakes, we can live victoriously -no longer controlled by guilt.

We may also need to forgive ourselves.  Offering ourselves self-compassion as imperfect beings is a necessary part of the healing process.

For a believer, guilt belongs in the past.  We are not called to live in the past, but in the present moment. One day at a time.

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes, MA, CATP

Founder/Director Ephraim Ministries