For the next two months, I am devoting my blogs to topics having to do with unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and life. January 22 marks the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the United States. Since then, over 60 million babies have been aborted with an average of 1,700 abortions occurring daily. In 2020, even more were recorded as Covid-19 ravaged our country. After the most pro-life sympathetic presidential administration that the U.S. has ever been blessed with, we now must prepare and pray as the most pro-abortion-ever administration assumes leadership. This is not the time for Christians to sit silently regarding this issue.

I begin this blog by telling the story of my nephew and his wife—and their unplanned pregnancy that occurred 13 years ago. The story is a reminder that there is no particular group of people that remains unaffected by unplanned pregnancies. But this story is different from many others—not just in the decisions that were made or their outcomes, but by how God glorified Himself (and continues to do so) in the lives of this young family. It describes a God, merciful and compassionate, Who graciously interweaves His story into ours.

Stephie’s Story

I grew up in a Christian home where my parents lived before us children as believers, teaching and encouraging us to seek Jesus and follow Him. We were actively part of a warm, vibrant congregation in south Florida. While our family was very close, our church family was equally close. I love music and I became a part of the music ministry of our church, playing the guitar and singing. 

I met Chad at my church in Miami in 2005. He was new to Florida and quickly became an active leader of the youth and singles ministries in our church. He was in his early 30’s and single. My parents reached out to him and often invited him into our home for family gatherings. He even went on vacations with us. I was in my late teens and had just graduated from high school, when I began to attend the singles ministry. It was then that Chad and I started to hang out with each other and spend more time together. We called each other on the phone and talked for hours. It was my first relationship with someone in the church. I felt good knowing that Chad was a Christian compared to other relationships I’d been in where the guys were not Christians. 

My family, on the other hand, was very strict about relationships. Because there was such a big age difference between Chad and I and because he was in leadership of the group I was in, I never shared with my parents that I had any romantic interest in Chad. Because my parents also had a great relationship with Chad, they most likely had their guard down with him, knowing and believing that he was an upstanding Christian man.

So, I believed what I was doing was good even when we would sneak around to be alone with each other when my parents would think I was with other young adults from church. My relationship with the Lord began to take a backseat as I wanted to spend more and more time with Chad. Our feelings for one another deepened, and one thing led to another until we became sexually involved.

In February 2008—my period was late so I decided to go to my General Practitioner. It was the first time I had ever made an appointment on my own and gone by myself. She gave me a pregnancy test which turned out to be positive, and confirmed the one that I had taken earlier at home. I went to my car and began bawling right there in the parking lot. I called Chad in the midst of my tears and told him. I had to go to work right after that and act like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. 

Many different ideas were running through my mind—abortion, adoption, running away, moving away. I was very broken. Heart-broken that my life would be completely changed. Heart-broken that I was now pregnant while still going to college and finding my way as a young adult. Heart-broken that I had disappointed and hurt my family.

Chad took the responsibility of telling my parents the news. He told them while I was out of town with my sister. It was definitely a big shock to them since they weren’t even aware that we were in a romantic relationship. Yet, even though they were heart-broken, hurt, and angry, they still embraced me with loving arms when I returned home that night. It was clear they hated the sin, but they still loved me.

My parents were church leaders and they had the difficult job of breaking the news to the other pastors. Since Chad was a youth and singles leader and I was a worship leader, the fall for us was hard. It was difficult to accept, and I felt very unworthy and humbled because my sin had caused so much hurt and disappointment to many people that I loved.  As Hebrews 12:6 says: “Whom the Lord loves he chastens.” 

The church first and foremost cared about my relationship with the Lord, and did what they could to take me back to my first Love (Revelation 2:4). I met with church elders on a weekly basis, going through scriptures and reflecting on what they meant to me. They wanted to see my relationship with the Lord grow. At some point, we couldn’t hide my belly anymore and had to tell the whole church, so a special meeting was called. I read an apologetic letter I wrote and Chad read his. It was very emotional and hard to do. I did not want to go through with it, but I knew it was the best thing to do.

Proverbs 28:13 says: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Once we both shared our stories, tears were shed—but many were very blessed and encouraged by our bravery and submission to the church elders. Women in the church poured in to help me prepare for the baby’s arrival, and also shared their stories of abortion with me. They were relieved that I was not going that route.

Psalm 34 comforted me greatly through this time. It assured me that God is near to the broken-hearted and that He would deliver me from all my fears. The hardest thing to endure was seeing the people I loved feeling sad and hurt for me. I never realized how much sin can affect not only your life but the lives of others. After confessing to my family and church, I finally understood the forgiveness of God and what the Cross meant for me. Witnessing the people I hurt continue to love on me was a testimony in itself and blessed me.

The church elders also decided it was best if Chad and I did not speak to each other for a time, and for Chad to attend another church which they referred him to. By not communicating with Chad, I was able to focus on my relationship with the Lord and mend the relationship with my parents. I knew that God had a plan for my life, and this was the way to draw me closer to Him. I had gone ahead of the Lord in my relationship with Chad and it was time for me to step back and follow Him.

So, from February until July, I was unable to see, call, or text Chad. We went from talking and hanging out for hours to nothing at all. But on my birthday, July 29th, he called me. After several months, we were finally reconciled to each other but took very small steps with tons of walls and guards to make sure we would both stay protected from the flesh. We started with texting—each one first screened by my dad—then calls. There was lots of caution and accountability.

I was very nervous about my final days of pregnancy. My mother and sister were in the labor room with me on October 13, 2008, when Tyler made his entrance, and Chad was able to come into the delivery room and cut the umbilical cord. After Tyler was born, I felt very happy to be a mother and love on this beautiful child of God. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that keeping the child was the right thing to do. My family and I fell in love with Tyler, and so did Chad. It was a joy to see Chad interact with his son and I was able to see Chad more. 

Even though I was grateful for the few hours a day I was allowed to see Chad, it was hard not being able to stay together all the time. I would battle these longings in the middle of the night when Tyler would cry. I would get impatient and anxious with the Lord, but then He would remind me that I should be thankful and content wherever He had me. Looking back, I can see plainly how the Lord brought me through it all, and I am just so thankful that He saved my life. What the devil meant for harm, the Lord turned around for good.

Chad obeyed and honored the church’s and my parents’ requests without complaint, and cared for me and Tyler very much. It was a joy for me to see him become a father and to watch his relationship with the Lord grow as well. The Lord encouraged me through His Word as I longed for the time Chad and I could be married. Philemon 15 says, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever.

Graciously, the Lord allowed me to finish college. In fact, I only took one semester off. I was worried I would lose my scholarships by taking a semester off, but by God’s grace I was allowed one semester absence and I lost nothing. I finally graduated with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration in May 2012. I worked as a Marketing Freelancer and also started my own business.  

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says the Lord makes everything beautiful in His time. Chad and I wanted the Lord’s plan and timing, not ours.  Habakkuk 1:5 says that He is going to work a work in our days which we wouldn’t utterly believe if it were told to us. Over a year after Tyler was born, on December 22, 2009, Chad proposed to me. I said “Yes!” We had a beautiful wedding on May 1, 2010. Now, ten years later, Tyler is 12 and he has been joined by a sister, Lana, five years old, and a brother, Jack, who is three.

Chad’s Story

I moved to Miami at the beginning of the school year in 2005. I was a few months away from turning 30. I am an elementary special ed teacher. I first met Stephie at the church we both attended, Calvary Chapel Miami. Her parents were some of the first people I got to know and they invited me into their home often. They invited me there for my first Miami Thanksgiving. (I haven’t missed one since.) In 2007 they invited me on their annual vacation to Aruba where both of them are from.

Stephie and I quickly became good friends and we always seemed to click. But a romance began to develop when Stephie joined our singles ministry after she graduated from high school. I was one of the group’s leaders. Let me begin by saying Stephie is gorgeous. She was homecoming queen of her high school. She is a dancer and has won competitions. She’s been in commercials, music videos, and a movie. Best of all, she always seemed so interested in everything I had to say. It was one of those relationships that felt like we were always in on an inside joke.

After singles events, we would “somehow” end up together, and more and more we would be alone. One night after a retreat at the Hyatt Regency, we spent hours talking in the stairwell. A short time later, we began kissing in her car. There were times of brief “repentance” before things got more physical; but soon things escalated to much more.

Hebrews 11:25 talks about sin being pleasurable for a season. This is true. There is no temptation in eating too much broccoli. The times with Stephie were pleasurable, and sneaking away for what would turn into sexual rendezvous were exciting. But all the while I felt like my soul was dying and my heart was getting harder and harder. You think you can stop and turn around at some point, but eventually you pass the point of no return. It is only by God’s grace we were exposed before it was too late.

I was very concerned about what other people would think if they found out what we were doing. As Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” There was the age difference; but also, I think we knew we would have to slow down and have lots of accountability. We wouldn’t be able to go out alone anymore.  Then there was the possibility that God might take a good thing like Stephie away from me forever. 

Meanwhile, as things kept moving faster in our relationship, I was in multiple ministries at church. It was almost as if I kept getting asked to do more. At first, Stephie and I tried to maintain the veneer that we were helping each other spiritually and even memorized some scripture verses together. We had multiple conversations about slowing things down sexually, but never did we do the right thing of bringing our relationship or our feelings into the light. Even after our flesh took over, I would ask forgiveness and I took solace in the fact that I never lied directly about our relationship to anyone. 

When Stephie told me that her period was late, I purchased a home pregnancy kit for her. It was positive. I wasn’t really thinking about the consequences of sin. I was older and in love and rushing into marriage didn’t seem so bad. I was supposed to go with Stephie for the doctor’s appointment that would confirm the pregnancy. But that afternoon, there was a power outage in Miami and several traffic lights were out. I had to keep my students after dismissal time, and even though I rushed to the doctor’s office as soon as I was able, I found Stephie in her car in the parking lot, emotionally distraught and needing to go to work. Now, keeping our sin a secret was impossible and I started to feel the heavy weight of my own double life.

I first confessed to the two pastors I served under in the youth and singles ministry. Sitting at a picnic table in a park, I told them how sin had progressively increased its hold on our lives until we were completely covering up our sin, and only now confessing because of Stephie’s pregnancy. I could see the hurt and disappointment in their eyes, but even more than that I could sense their hurt for us and what we had allowed the enemy to do to us. Later that same evening, I confessed to the senior pastor. I don’t remember everything he told me but I remember him hugging me and telling me that he loved me. He wanted to come with me when I told Stephie’s parents, but I believed that it was something I had to do alone. 

After the meeting with my pastor, I headed to Stephie’s house. She and her sister were out of town at the time. Stephie’s parents seemed happy to see me and I knew they had no idea how much their lives were about to change. As they sat there looking at me, I told them about my relationship with Stephie and slowly broke the news that Stephie was pregnant. I know that by God’s grace they kept it together. I believe they, too, even mentioned how they loved me, but it was obvious that deep hurt had been inflicted upon them by my actions.

A short time after this, Stephie’s father conveyed to me that I would be unable to see Stephie for a while. Then, a couple days later, I was called in for a meeting with all the pastors of the church which included Stephie’s father. This meeting was instrumental in setting me on the road to true repentance. The senior pastor did almost all the talking. He very calmly and systematically went through how the Lord used different people to warn us. (In the past months multiple people had asked me about Stephie and me and mentioned being accountable.) He said this sin would affect many different groups of people in the church. He mentioned by name many of the youth that looked up to me. He talked about how my sin gave the enemy of God opportunity to blaspheme the name of God. My sin had aided and abetted the enemy. 

He drew my attention to 1 Corinthians 5 and how Paul instructed the church in Corinth to put away for a time, a man living in sexual immorality. Now, there were certain things the church wanted me to do for a time, including attending a different church, (a church they chose and whose pastor welcomed me with open arms), and to meet weekly with the two pastors who had worked with me in ministry. They did not want me to have social contact with church people but to spend this time seeking the Lord and mourning for my sin. There was no timetable mentioned and no guarantees of anything, but of course, I was given the choice of submitting to their requests. I chose to comply.

I hesitate to tell this part of the story, lest anyone might think the church acted harshly or coldly toward me. I know the pastor prayed, fasted, and wept for what had happened and that the meeting between me and the pastors didn’t take place right away because he was waiting on the Lord’s leading. I am so thankful and grateful for a pastor that didn’t brush my sin under the rug or just kick me to the curb. In my flesh at the time, I would have loved for a surface repentance to take place, and then be allowed to marry Stephie. Now, I realize that would have led to the end of our relationship because there was deep sin and heart issues that needed to be dealt with. The Lord used this process to pull junk out of me.

As I began my time in the wilderness, I felt very alone and my life seemed like it was in ruins. The fear of the Lord came over me. My only course of action was to seek the Lord—and this was the beginning of many long nights, crying out to the Lord and seeking Him and His forgiveness. I realized I was not in control of the situation. Soon, I sensed the Lord in my spirit telling me so clearly, “Even though you hurt me the most, I was the first to forgive you.” How wonderful it was to hear clearly from the Lord after months of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and for the sentiment to be one of forgiveness.

While I said I believed the Bible, the Word of God, all my actions had spoken otherwise. This was extremely convicting but not condemning. Condemnation takes you from the Lord, while conviction brings you to the Lord—and suddenly this realization had so much possibility. The Word of God was beginning to come alive to me. My appetite for the Word was increasing. I surrendered my future with Stephie to the Lord. I would be content to live a life fully surrendered to the Lord even if it meant not having a family. That surrender was a turning point in my relationship with the Lord. 

Although those months apart from Stephie were the hardest of my life, the Lord was breaking me down and then building me back up in Him. So much of my attending church had been for outward appearances and man’s approval. I tended to think that if I did certain things God would bless me, versus simply putting a childlike faith in what Christ already had done on the cross. All my favor had already been purchased on the cross. 

Many areas of my life that had been neglected—things like finances, career, and relationships with family members—the Lord was starting to straighten out as well. I was finding His promises to be true and reliable. Verses like Joel 2:25: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” 

Too incredible for me to fully understand, Ephesians 1:4 assured me, I was blameless in God’s sight. I learned to “Be still, and know God,” (Psalm 46:10). God was impressing upon me that before I had tried to bring Stephie and me together in the flesh. That was my Ishmael. Now He was going to do it, and that was going to be my Isaac. 

Slowly things began to take a turn. I had gone to my parents’ home in Oregon for the summer. From time to time, Stephie’s dad would text me; and then finally on her birthday, July 29, he called me to tell me that I could call Stephie that night. By this time, I was confident that God was going to restore our relationship, and so talking to her was wonderful and joyous. Early in October, I was finally able to see Stephie. To me she looked so beautiful and radiant. She had a glow about her. We discussed names for our unborn son and agreed on Tyler. 

The very next Sunday I got a call from Stephie’s father that she was in labor. I raced to the hospital. I saw her right before Tyler was born and whispered in her ear, “I love you.” After Tyler was born, I got to go into the delivery room and cut the umbilical cord. Everything about Tyler was perfect. It was sad when Tyler left the hospital with his little cap on, and snuggly buckled into his new baby seat in the back of Stephie’s parents’ car. I had to say goodbye, knowing we were going to separate places. For the next year and a half, I would text Stephie’s father and ask permission to come visit Tyler, and without fail, he always said, “yes.” It was not easy being an unwed father to Tyler.

I asked Stephie to marry me on my birthday, December 22, 2009 and she said “Yes!” Our second courtship was marked by purity and accountability. We never even kissed before our wedding which took place on May 1, 2010. I can’t help but think of Romans 5:20, “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” and 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The Lord has restored everything. The deep work He began in me during that difficult separation from Stephie is still bearing fruit. I have become an elder in the church and serve in many ministries. Stephie and I have been in charge of leading marriage retreats for our church for about four years. God has blessed us with two more beautiful children—Lana and Jack. I have so much to be thankful for.  

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