Freedom · Grief · spiritual growth

On Choosing Abortion and Choosing Life

I’ve been on both sides of the abortion issue. Meaning, one time when I was pregnant I chose abortion and one time when I was pregnant, and advised to choose abortion, I chose life. This doesn’t make me more knowledgeable than others on the issue of abortion, it just makes me an expert on abortion as it affected my life.

Traveling backward in time thirty-four years ago, I was a was a High School senior who was struggling with poor self-esteem and had a hard time talking to boys. Words failed me (something that’s now hard to believe) and it was a relief to avoid conversation and “make-out” instead. I felt safe and I felt wanted when I was being held. Eventually, I ended up pregnant.

Scared as I was, I legitimately thought abortion was what my father would have wanted me to do. And I was more scared of disappointing him than anything else. I chose to have an abortion. Weeks later, my father found out what I had done and he told me frankly, “I think abortion is wrong.” I have often wondered what my life might look like if my father and I had had that conversation prior to me making that choice.

The reason the wondering attached itself to me is because there were so many years spent recovering from the hole that my abortion created. While my self-esteem may have been low prior to the pregnancy, after the abortion it plummeted. I have memories of cutting out images of little boys and taping them to my wall and naming them Christopher. I remember fastening the seatbelt in my car as if I had a passenger. Through the years, time and again, I did the math to determine the age of the never-born child.  It was confusing.

I hadn’t shown love to my baby, and I was heartbroken.

Eventually, I married and my husband and I began to build a family. That didn’t stop the wound from oozing every now and again. During my second pregnancy with my husband, I learned I was having a boy. We already had a girl, so this was supposed to be good news, but I was struggling with the idea that I couldn’t love a boy-child. Somehow, I had concocted a fantasy that the aborted child was a boy. I was trying to remove the pain of what I had done to him and determined my love for my living child was only possible because she was a girl. I distanced myself from the child I had aborted with a belief that I wouldn’t have loved him as much as I loved my daughter.

God worked in my life in many ways to show me that despite making a bad decision, I was still loved. Perhaps the most significant way He worked came through my third pregnancy (in my marriage).

In April 1993, precisely ten years after I had chosen to abort my first child, I was lying on a doctor’s examination table being advised to have an abortion. The baby had a rare, sporadic brain malformation called, Dandy Walker Malformation. In layman’s terms, the baby was missing her cerebellum, which is the back portion of the brain. The cerebellum controls fine and gross motor skills. Without the cerebellum, there was no way to know if the child would walk, have the ability to use her hands, or even breathe without assistance. It is also the passageway for cerebral fluid as it exits the skull and, eventually, the body. Without that passageway, the child would develop hydrocephalus.

I do not tell this to villainize the doctor for what she suggested.  Based on her values, her desire to see young couples have healthy babies, and what she understood about Dandy-Walker malformation and the risks associated with hydrocephalus, the doctor’s suggestion for abortion as an alternative was not meant to harm us. In her opinion, abortion was a viable option. If anything I have always been grateful that she suggested it, and here’s why.

It was no coincidence that I was in that place again. It was part of the plan of God, who knits together the most intricate stories to draw attention to His goodness.  I was being allowed to choose again. Free will is at its finest when we choose the ways of God. In that moment that I chose life for my little girl, my heart was being healed in ways that I wouldn’t understand for another decade.

Some may be offended by this, but I have always been grateful that I had a choice. I am thankful that abortion was an option that I could deny. I am thankful that I chose life for her. My choice may have looked like a gift to her, but it was really a gift to me.

And as the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story…”

1931170_48882471969_8413_nThe baby girl was born and she wasn’t the monster that we had been warned about, not in any way. She had one surgery when she was five weeks old, and then her disability was almost non-evident. She was just one of our children. She crawled about the house wreaking havoc like any toddler and she had preferences in toys, books, and foods.

Then one January morning, my daughter, that I chose life for, passed away. In a breath of a moment, she was gone. Cerebral fluid had coagulated, forming a non-malignant cyst which settled on her brain stem while she was sleeping. Everything was fine, and then she was gone. She was nineteen months and five days old at the time.

I loved my daughter and I was heartbroken.

I am not going to compare the grief of losing a nineteen-month-old child to abortion, however, I do want to say that in both instances I have experienced disappointment and heartbreak. Because of that, I want to say this: there is a difference in suffering when it is accompanied by regret than when it is not.

Again, I am not an expert on the abortion issue, I just know how it affected my life. I have experienced regret for choosing abortion and lived with the effects of that for over half my life. Choosing abortion left a hole in my heart and the dagger that was tearing into me was regret.

I have also experienced satisfaction in being able to choose life, but I have felt the pain of the loss of that child for over twenty years. Choosing life for a child, who would die less than two years later, left a hole in my heart–but I have never experienced a day of regret for the choice that was made.


Where the Water Rages – An excerpt

Bhubing Palace grounds

In honor of this Sunday’s upcoming book signing, it seemed like a good time to post an excerpt from Where the Water Rages. If you’ve been on the fence about reading it, here’s your chance to check out a portion of the book and see if it piques your interest. The following excerpt from Chapter 10 takes place at the Bhuping Palace in Chiang Mai, where Kimly Denim, an American journalist is meeting with SuSuk, the head of a prostitution ring, a man with ties throughout the Southeast continent.

Her surroundings were mesmerizing. The ferns were enormous and the trees had thick vines falling to the ground. Some of the vines had fallen, landing onto another tree, and the two had grafted together. The walkway narrowed in places and the ferns brushed softly against her arm.

After climbing about thirty steps, Kimly saw a man waiting for her. Kimly opened her mouth to speak, but nothing emerged. His neck. The tattoos. It was him, the man from the bathroom at Walking Street.

Just as she turned to rush back down the steps, she heard the deep voice of the man from the restroom issue a command,“Stop.”

She didn’t have to obey, did she? She stopped. As she gazed straight ahead, the most brilliant bush of purple asters caught her attention. The sharp pointed petals pierced the green fern it neighbored. The fern submitted to the radiant beauty of the aster. She looked back at the man with the tattoos, pulled her chin up and held his gaze.

Tattoo Man nodded his head up towards the stairs, clearly indicating she should continue climbing the steps. Is he going to follow me? She turned and moved upward, the sound of her heart pounding growing louder with each step. She had taken about seven steps when she turned and glanced over her shoulder. Tattoo Man hadn’t moved to follow her. So, you’re not him? She continued her climb.

Reality snapped into focus. She knew there would be many people, many men, involved in this underground business. She reminded herself that to these men–this was just a business. Just like any large corporation, there are underlings and there is a CEO. Am I meeting the CEO, or is this SuSuk below someone else? 

A small opening in the trees appeared, and in the alcove there sat a stone bench overlooking the palace grounds. Sitting on the bench, with his back to Kimly, was a man smoking a cigarette. Kimly approached, practicing her lines in her head, when the man spoke, “Come, have a seat.”

Taking a deep breath, Kimly moved forward to the edge of the bench. The man was wearing a gray suit and a black and gray striped tie. The suit jacket was unbuttoned, and his shirt had a reflective luster. He sat, one leg crossed over the other, and dangled his foot. When he pulled his cigarette up to his lips, she noticed the gold cufflinks attached to his pale pink shirt. He wore rimless glasses with a gold bridge. His oily complexion was smooth, and his thin eyebrows pointed down towards his eyelids. He had almost nailed the appearance of the wealthy and successful Asian businessman, one who would be holding a meeting with clients in a Bangkok sky rise. Everything was almost perfect. Almost. His black dress shoes were unpolished and slightly scuffed, and they didn’t blend with the image he was trying to portray.

She wasn’t sure how she should greet him. Her heart was pounding. If this man was to believe she was just another client she couldn’t act fearful, she needed to appear desensitized to their arrangement. As she got closer, she cleared her throat to speak.

“Come and sit. We have to discuss a few things,” he motioned her to the edge of the stone bench.

Kimly drew in a deep breath and moved closer to the bench.

“Go ahead. How does this work,” being near him was repulsive, so she decided whatever he said at this point, she would simply agree. If he asked for more money, she would agree and then leave with her life.

“How did you find me?” he took a drag from his cigarette.

“Your men were waiting when we came up the path.”

“No,” he did not turn to look at her. “How did you find me?” He gazed across the grounds of the palace.

“You told us to come here. Early this morning, on the bridge,” she squinted her eyes.

“No. How did you find me?”

Kimly turned her head away and looked out across the palace grounds. In the distance, she saw an expansive building resembling a ski lodge. The white building sported a twenty-foot orange tile roof which shot at an 80degree angle toward the sky. There were several pillars across the front of the building protecting the ample porch. Was that the palace? She expected it to look more “palace-y.” Perhaps her notions of royalty were completely off. Did corrupt underworld figures have access to influence in the Royal Family?

“I bought a box from a vendor on Walking Street. It contained the name of the bridge,” Kimly tried again to answer the business man’s question.

The strangely dignified man, who Kimly determined was, in fact, SuSuk, inhaled long on his cigarette. He still hadn’t turned to look at her. He exhaled. She waited. She had moved her boat into his port, given him the answers he sought; it was up to him to navigate the waters.

“I once tried to own a dog,” SuSuk looked at his cigarette, but still not once at Kimly, “I find him outside my house, so I decide I will feed him.” He took a long drag from his cigarette and then flicked it forward. It flew over the ridge and disappeared in the greenery. A ring on his hand sparkled in the sun, which was just above eye level.

“I feed him every day for many days. Then one day, I went out into my yard to have a picnic. This is what you Americans like to do…to have a picnic. I was in my yard eating the leg of chicken. I was sitting under my tree, eating my leg of chicken and when I turn my head, the dog grabbed my chicken from my hand. He took what was mine. I had fed him, and I had planned to keep feeding him. But, he took what was mine.”

Kimly swallowed hard and then breathed deeply.

“I could have killed him, but what would he learn?” He didn’t continue. He sat staring straight ahead. Is he waiting for me to answer? Kimly’s mind swam.

“Nothing. He would have learned nothing if I killed him. So, I cut off his front leg. A leg for a leg, right?” Kimly’s eyes were going to betray her. She could feel the lump building in her chest. His voice dropped to a near-whisper, “You’re not looking for a housekeeper, are you?”

“No…I mean, yes, I am. Whatever you think I am…No, I’m not. I just want a housekeeper who won’t cheat me and won’t steal—”

“Stop,” he interrupted her performance. “Answer my question. How did you find me? How did you know to buy the box? Who told you to go to Walking Street?”

Kimly’s mind was spinning. How could I have been so stupid? Answers were a million miles away. This should have been a simple answer, and she couldn’t conjure up anything in response.

“You know what I think? I think you are looking for more than you should be looking for. I think you are trying to steal something from me. I don’t like it when someone steals from me. What’s mine is mine,” and with that said, SuSuk turned and looked for the first time into Kimly’s brown eyes.

She looked away, “I don’t know what you are talking about. I was told by a friend you could assist me in getting the help I needed. But, if this is not what you do, that’s fine.”

Kimly stood, and SuSuk grabbed her wrist. “I’m not finished.” He stood and began to lead her back toward the path. Dak couldn’t help her from the bottom of the steps. If he came running up the steps he would meet the tattooed underling half way up…then what? The thought of Dak getting hurt kept her from reaching into her pocket for her phone. She needed to get away.

When SuSuk reached the path, he pulled her along the steps down a different route. She looked around wildly for a clue as to what she could do. She grabbed a vine, holding it tightly; she attempted to stop them both. “Stop, please,” she insisted. “Where are you taking me?”

SuSuk’s strength was greater than hers. Kimly held tight to the hanging vine and it dug into her palm until she released it and continued stumbling through the mock jungle with him. He pulled her around the corner of a small white cinder block building and pushed her against the wall. With his right hand, he tightened his grip on her wrist. She pulled away from him trying to maneuver her body and gain control, but he used the forearm from his left arm to push her neck against the blocks. His gold cufflink cut into her jaw line.

Moving his face close to hers, he stood in front of her and Kimly could smell the burnt tobacco on his breath. “You will not steal from me. You will not make a fool of me. Do you think you are worth more than a dog that I fed?”


She heard it. She had heard this voice before, and she had not recognized it, but this time she knew. It was God. It was the God with a plan, Dak’s God. When Dak had prayed in the Jeep it was more than just hopeful words, God had heard Dak’s prayers and He had come with them to the palace grounds.

She closed her eyes and tried to think of the words to plead with the God with a plan to help her. “Open your eyes, you stupid woman. Look at me.” Kimly didn’t raise her eyes to his. She was afraid the evil would overcome any bit of confidence she might muster. She continued to search for the words a person might use to plead with God for protection. She didn’t know how to pray, so she simply began a silent uttering of phrases she remembered Dak praying in the Jeep. Forgive me for doubting. Surround me. Change the hearts. Please move…please. She could only remember pieces of what she had heard Dak pray, so she just kept repeating them.

Interested in reading more? Find Where the Water Rages on Amazon! Available in Paperback or on Kindle – CLICK HERE to Order your copy today!

Meet Jackie this Sunday Evening (01/22/17 from 4PM-6PM) at Wahfles Cafe – 1502 Foothill Blvd., La Verne, California