Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Place of Light and Hope

On this date, August 31st, in 2009, I had an appointment at the Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia in Charlottesville. I had already made the choice of LIFE for my unborn child, but was still unsure if I would choose adoption or parenting. I needed someone to talk to about everything, which is when the appointment was made at the PCCV. It is just a mile or so from the Planned Parenthood where I had an abortion just months before.
 
From the moment I walked in the doors of the pregnancy center, I felt accepted and loved. The way I like to describe it as is "the place of light and hope." It was such a contrast to "the place of darkness and despair" (Planned Parenthood). I literally remember the sunshine streaming in the windows as I walked in, as a physical representation of what the center is spiritually.

I met with Anna, who was the center director then, and was so blessed by our time together. I wrote about my visit to the center in an email to Bex, the friend I just posted about. I am so thankful to have these words to see what exactly I was thinking then:
I went to the Pregnancy Center on Monday. I met with one of the counselors there, Anna. I didn't really know what to expect going in there. The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia is a Christian establishment and as soon as I walked in the door, I felt comfortable and loved. The lady at the front desk had a warm smile on her face and was very helpful. Then, I met with Anna and I knew she wasn't judging me or thinking about what a horrible person I am. Her words were tender and sweet, and I felt comfortable enough to openly discuss everything with her. I told her I am considering adoption and she recommended Bethany Christian Services, the very same place you sent me a link to in your first message to me! She gave me all sorts of pamphlets when I left with information on the things we had discussed. She gave me the number to Bethany, as well as the number to both hospitals in the area, so I can get set up with a doctor. She told me someone that works in the Center has a daughter that got pregnant and put her baby up for adoption. I told her the church I have been attending with my grandmother, and then told her the church I would like to try. Her eyes lit up and she said, "that's the church I attend." She invited me to go with her. She talked with me as long as I wanted, and then prayed for me. Her prayer was heartfelt and sincere, and brought tears to my eyes. While she was getting all the pamphlets together for me, I watched a fifteen minute video on adoption. I was filled with emotion and tears were streaming down my face. I am scared of the pain that is to come if I do indeed choose adoption. I walked out of the Pregnancy Center that day with great hope. I was at complete peace with my choice of LIFE.

I really wanted to have an ultrasound on that day, but was unable to. I remember Anna sharing the fetal models they have at the center and I was able to see around the size Lily was at that gestation.

Throughout my pregnancy, I kept meaning to write Anna to tell her how much that short visit with her had deeply impacted me. I told my mom about her and just smiled whenever I thought of sweet Anna. I saw her in October at the annual pregnancy center banquet that I went to with my grandmother, but didn't say anything to her. Not everyone knew yet about my pregnancy.

I did eventually contact Anna, just not in the way I every thought I'd have to. I called the center in March of 2010 and asked her if she would attend my daughter's Celebration of LIFE burial service. She was happy to come. It means so much to me that she would attend. She has gotten to see the story unfold from the beginning.

Meeting at the center because of my pregnancy was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since then, we have gotten together many times and I treasure our relationship. She has spoken truth into my life when I needed to hear it and has been a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Isn't it amazing how God brings good things into our lives in ways we never could have expected?

On New Year's Eve 2011, Anna got married and she asked me to be her wedding photographer! She said what I thought...who would have ever imagined when we first met that one day I would be photographing her wedding! Anna has since had a sweet daughter and is currently pregnant again.

Anna and I
A couple years ago, I asked Anna for her version of when I first came into the center. These words mean so much to me:
I remember the day you (Hannah) walked into the Center with your boyfriend at the time. I remember that you looked scared and a bit down, very down. But in your eyes was a spark of the desire to have hope. You sat down on the couch opposite me, hungry for some direction that would give you peace in your pregnancy. I could see that things were hard between you and him, and that there was so much in your heart and to your soul that he wasn't even aware of. I could see your potential and a bit of who you really were, is what I'm trying to say. As I talked to you I felt the Spirit pouring out His story of hope to you. Choose Life.....maybe even adoption. I could tell that your character was deep, but I wasn't sure how you were feeling - what would be your outcome? As you watched the adoption video, I remember seeing that you had so much emotion welling up - your mother's heart was showing.....and being wrenched. It was in the following days ahead that I really got to see verified what I had only believed was true- as you mentioned that you were going forward, going to have your baby, and give it the best life you could. The most amazing thing of all to me was when you said you just couldn't stay with your boyfriend, but that you had to make a decision to move beyond him, for yourself but most importantly to honor God. I think I cheered at that in my office and bragged on you to the staff!! We don't see that kind of decision hardly EVER! It is rare, though we pray for it to increase. Your heart was breaking over so many losses, but you had your eye on His gain. I knew that would take you far, and, secretly I was hoping we would get to stay in touch so that I could see just how God would bless your heart of David and heart of Esther! As your baby was nearing birth, I was so excited for you....and then, my heart broke, as you told me the news that must crush every mother's most inner sensibility. I felt that loss so acutely. Little Lily was a miracle, and even her name was a testimony to your growing in His light like a flower blooming in her season. Getting to come to the funeral was a huge blessing, as I was able to be with you and also your family (who had supported the Pregnancy Centers for many years and was well known among our staff). I felt that I was getting to be there with the granddaughter of one of the PCCV matrons - your grandma Nancy Virginia Bain! Through time and after Lily's going back to be with Jesus, getting to know you personally has just been one of the sweetest treasures, like nectar bottled up from such a sweet flower of the past. I don't get to get close to all clients like I did you - they are transient, they pass in and out, etc. But, you....God allowed our acquaintance to deepen to friendship and deep sister love in the Spirit. You are so special, and I just know that His plan for you is just radiantly expansive, with impact that ripples like waves out from a rock hitting the water. You are forever precious to me and I hope we will always stay in touch!!!! Also, one of the greatest gifts you gave to me was that you would pursue God and His direction in your life relentlessly. When you could have taken the easy way, you chose HIM!! Every time you'd tell me what you were up to, I could see the little "normal" veerings as you were trying to discover the right way...the path to Life.....but, always you would end up choosing it! It brought joy and surprise to me like I hadn't felt with any other person who had sought the Center for help. You are truly unique!"
The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia really blessed me and was there at a time that I needed hope and a listening ear. I encourage anyone who is reading this to get involved in your local pregnancy center. Whether you want to become a volunteer or make one donation or regular donations...these centers are helping women and men and their babies and they need support to continue being able to offer these things to their community! You can make an impact on lives!

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