So that time when your period was supposed to start has come and gone. Wondering if you are pregnant can bring it's own set of worries. We can help you find the answer. If you would like to have a free pregnancy test, schedule an appointment with our office. The test is easy and pain free. One of our peer counselors will answer your questions and explain the pregnancy test procedure to you while maintaining confidentiality. Our pregnancy test is self-administered insuring your privacy and comfort. To schedule an appointment, please call 641-424-2237. Remember, you are not alone!
We humans regularly use our beliefs and personal experiences to make assumptions about the people, places, or organizations in which we come into contact on a daily basis. We make assumptions when we do not fully understand a situation. We have a tendency to build elaborate ideas of who people are going to be, or how things are going to go, rather than actually being in the moment of discovering what they truly are. We do this because we like to make sense of the world around us. It is a natural reaction to try to fill in the gaps of our understanding by making up our own story. The danger in making assumptions in this fashion is that we run the risk of pigeonholing those around us into a rigid, preconceived notion of what we believe to be true versus what reality actually is. Many times, our story is wrong and we have done nothing more than perpetuate a flawed misconception.
The Caring Pregnancy Center and its clients are not immune from the power of assumptions. Not one client is exactly like any other. Each one has his or her own unique story that defines them. Are there similarities or common threads at times? Of course. However, overemphasizing the commonalities only serves to limit what the CPC can, and does, do in its ministry from day to day.
“You go to the CPC?” That was the question often posed to me seven years ago when I first became a client of the Caring Pregnancy Center. When my friends or acquaintances learned that I had made the commitment to be a CPC client it often surprised them. It was hard to miss the stress placed on the word “you”. In their inquiry they were saying that I did not belong there. I did not fit the neat image of what they assumed a Caring Pregnancy Center client would be. I had one coworker go so far as to say, “I thought they just gave handouts to single moms on Welfare or with drug problems?” My personal life did not fit the mold of her assumption and she was confused by it. The services provided by the center are hardly handouts. You might notice that I called being a client a commitment. This is because clients must take ownership in the process. It is true that the items and classes provided to clients by the CPC are at no cost, but they are not free. The word free implies receiving something for nothing. You see, clients earn the help the are given. Clients take classes, hold down jobs, go to church, take their children to the doctor, volunteer in the community, and even, in some cases, learn English. All of these things are ways that clients seek to better themselves and their children. Material help is earned in this way, through the effort of the client seeking to improve the life of their children.
Even with this in mind, I would say the greatest contribution the Caring Pregnancy Center provides is not one of monetary value, and one in which the center gives without questioning whether the clients deserve it. This is the area where the reward does not have to be earned, it is truly given for free. What is the greatest commodity provided by the staff and volunteers of the CPC? It is all of those intangible things that our hearts long for as a member of the human race. It is acceptance, compassion, consideration, and unconditional love that transforms the lives of CPC clients far more than receiving diapers or baby food.
You might read that sentence and see it as a pretty bold statement. “That's awfully subjective,” you might say, and you would be right. The notions of acceptance and unconditional love are not exactly quantifiable, however, I feel comfortable making this assertion because I have evidence from my own unique story. I find myself incredibly nervous at the prospect of sharing my story so publicly, but I also feel that it is important to do so. I am not comfortable sharing my identity as the subject matter relating to my past is deeply sensitive for me. But it really does not matter who I am. It is the outcome of my story that matters much more than my name. As I said earlier, I became a client at the Caring Pregnancy Center seven years ago. My coworker who was surprised I was connected to the CPC assumed all clients at the center were single, unemployed, and had an education level not higher than a high school degree. I fit into none of these categories. Rather, I was a married mom of two children with a college education and a full time job. I came to the Caring Pregnancy Center because medical bills had left our family completely destitute and unable to even afford formula for my two month old daughter. My first introduction to the center was a kind voice on the other end of the phone as I sobbed in desperation about the inability to feed my own child. I felt sure that I was a horrible mother and that kind voice assured me that my financial difficulties did not define who I was as a mom.
What that kind voice did not know at the time was that my feelings of inadequacy as a parent did not stem for our financial struggles. I had a secret that I had been carrying for years. My secret left me feeling only negative emotions about myself. All I knew was guilt, shame, and self-loathing. I could not see myself as anything but a horrible mother because I could only see myself as worthless. At many times in my marriage I would secretly wish my husband would divorce me and take my children away because I thought they deserved so much more than I could ever offer. Eventually, I would share my secret with the counselors of the Caring Pregnancy Center, but only in the most limited fashion. I worried that if anyone truly knew the extent of what I was I would be judged, rejected, or dismissed. On the outside, people would look at me and assume that I had my life together, but inside I was drowning in a sea of despair and regret.
The turning point came on November 18, 2013. It may seem strange that I can remember the exact date so easily. This was the day I was freed from my secret. This was the day I experienced unconditional love from others so profound that I finally began to realize that I was worthy of being loved in this way and that nothing from my past could change that. By this time I had been a client for six years and had had two more children. I had long since learned that the Caring Pregnancy Center was a place that I felt safe and accepted for who I was. Though I had this understanding, I still put in considerable effort into hiding a significant part of my life. My shame consumed me and it was exhausting. I was at the CPC on this date attending the monthly Bible study the center offered, and I had come to consider it my favorite class. This particular lesson was on the introduction to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, commonly referred to as the Beatitudes. I had heard or read the Beatitudes many times, but for some reason they never particularly touched me in a meaningful way. On this day however, as the class facilitator, Nancy, read aloud I became overwhelmed when she reached Matthew 5:4.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
I felt as though a great weight had hit me. I could not contain the emotion overtaking me, though I tried desperately to maintain control. I kept my face turned downward as tears dropped silently onto the table. Even now, I feel overcome as I write this. I did not know what this feeling was originally, but I have come to believe that it was the Holy Spirit compelling my heart as if to say, “It is time to let go of the secret.”
“Why can we gain hope from these verses?” Nancy asked. I was surprised that I was able to answer when I was called upon, but it took considerable effort to do so.
“Sometimes the world feels so full of evil that it seems easy to become cynical or jaded,” I found myself saying almost automatically. “This passage reminds us that the world will not always be this way. Through God the dark can become light.” I do not know if it was the tears in my eyes, or the slight quiver in my voice as I spoke, but through her gaze I could tell that she could see the emotion that had built in me. The remainder of the Bible study passed without further incident. I noticed Nancy made sure to draw attention away from me; a small gesture for which I was incredibly grateful. The instant class was over I made for the door in a hurry under the guise of going to the bathroom. After composing myself, I returned to the classroom to retrieve my things. Before I could get that far I met Nancy in the hallway. “Are you okay?” she asked. I explained to her what I had experienced including the urging I had felt in my heart to “let go of the secret.” She took me to a private room, and with her encouragement, that's exactly what I did.
As I told my story, I was steeling myself for what I considered would be the inevitable reaction: rejection, disgust, and blame. For someone like me it is a common expectation. I expected blame, because the truth was that I blamed myself. You see, I am a survivor. I survived a violent sexual assault that left me with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That was my secret. I carried the guilt and shame from my assault so long that I came to believe everything that my assailants had said about me. I was worthless. I was insignificant. I was unlovable. I was abandoned by God. I was hopeless. When I finished explaining what I had been through I braced myself for Nancy's response. I felt sick because of the look of horror in her eyes. I never wanted anyone to think less of me, and I was sure that was precisely what I had done. I stared at my lap, unable to look her in the eyes any longer.
“It's not your fault,” I heard her say as she wrapped her arms around me in a warm embrace. “Nothing you have said could change the way I feel about you.” I began to cry once more, but these tears were not the same as before. They were not the tears of mourning or despair. Rather, they were tears of the relief that comes with being comforted by someone you know cares about you. Yet, it was not just Nancy's arms that held me, but the Lord's as well. The consolation I had begun to feel in that moment was the reintroduction to the idea that I was lovable despite what I had been through. The Lord does not love me for what I have or have not done. He loves me simply for being me.
Over the next several months, the Lord used Nancy and the other ladies of the Caring Pregnancy Center to bless me in more ways than I can count. Nancy led me through a one on one Bible study that helped me to understand that God's plan for me does not begin or end with the tragedy I endured. The CPC has helped me to understand my fear and anger, shown me unconditional love, encouraged me, stood by me, and even helped me to find forgiveness for those who had hurt me so. It has not always been easy, but things are definitely easier. I still suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I still feel fearful and anxious at times. However, what has changed is that my fear and anxiety are no longer rooted in a soul rendering hopelessness.
The Caring Pregnancy Center will always hold a special place in my heart and the women there forever have my gratitude. However, the credit for my transformation and healing goes to the Lord. He is the master architect of our lives. He knows our hearts and what we need to thrive. I needed to be reminded of God's love for me. The CPC was just the tool He used. Whatever was broken inside of me, God led me to the ones that helped bind me back together again. My financial difficulties were the reason I made it through the Caring Pregnancy Center's door, but it was the intangible blessings the Lord had in store for me that kept me there.
It is here that I learned that I was guilty of making assumptions too. I assumed others would reject or blame me if they knew the truth about me. I assumed God had abandoned me. I assumed all the negative feelings I had about myself were undeniable and unchangeable. My assumptions had limited me to a very narrow, cynical, and sorrowful life. Making assumptions is the safe bet. It is so much simpler to presume we know the truth instead of investing ourselves to its discovery. How different could the world be if we were bolder and sought the truth wholeheartedly? Though I may never understand why I was hurt, I find solace in knowing that God does. After all, I am blessed. For blessed am I who mourn, for I am comforted.
As we walk through life the temptation and opportunity to judge those around us can be so obvious that it can almost feel destined to be. After all, we make judgments all the time: the difference between right and wrong, what to wear, whether to stick to that diet or stray, or in the political arena as we attempt to decide which candidate would best represent us. Judgment for decision making purposes is an inevitable thing.
However, what of the human element? When is making a judgment of another person right or wrong? People are very good at pointing out the things that offend or disgust them in another person. Unfortunately, all too often the emphasis of judgment becomes the person instead of the action. Human nature causes us to scrutinize our fellow man. As petty as it sounds, there are those that feel better about themselves because of the unenviable circumstances of someone else. “At least, I'm not as bad as that meth addict.” “Well, I have never slept around.” Whenever the temptation to judge another arises we must ask ourselves, “What would God want me to do in this situation?” The Bible talks a great deal about passing judgment.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” -Matthew 7:1-5
In this passage Jesus warns us not to look at the sins of others in a hypocritical way. No matter how one chooses to look at it, we are all sinners. God does not put a hierarchy on sin, only human beings do that. If we go back to the examples used above, those with addictions who lie and steal in order to feed their habit are not more guilty than the one who speaks in jealousy and anger. Those with a promiscuous past are not more condemned than shoplifters or domestic abusers. There is no minor sin in the sight of the Lord. He takes all of our mistakes very seriously. It is important that when we are tempted to pass judgment on another, to remember not only that we too have sinned, but also that in many cases, we do not know why others have ended up in the situations where we have found them. That is why it is so important to always try to approach each situation as how God would: with grace and kindness. An often used quote illustrates this well: “Be kind. For others may be facing a battle you know nothing about.” We may not always know the reason others have made the sinful choices they have. After all, as a wise pastor once said, “No little boy ever says, 'When I grow up I want to be addicted to drugs,' and no little girl ever wished to be find herself controlled by a pimp and prostitution.”
So what is the consequence of judging others based on their mistakes when we too are just as guilty of a sinful nature? The passage from Matthew is pretty clear. If we judge others, the Lord will judge us with the same level of scrutiny that we have shown. That consequence seems pretty straightforward. However, there is another consequence to passing judgment that most people do not consider. Recently, there has been a story floating around the internet that exhibits this other consequence so well it would feel negligent not to pass it along here. It is unclear if the story is true or merely anecdotal, but the core purpose highlighted in the story is undeniable regardless of the story's origins.
One night, a young woman found herself at the doors of a church. She had never felt lower in her life and entered the church during the service with a heart filled with despair and desperation. As the service progressed, her anguish melted away as God tugged at her heart. She answered God's call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The young woman had a very rough past that involved alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. Yet, from that moment on, the change in her was evident.
As time went on, she became a faithful member of the church. She eventually became involved in the ministry teaching young children. It was not very long until this faithful young woman caught the eye and heart of the pastor's son. The relationship grew, and they began to make wedding plans. This is where her problems began.
You see, about half the church felt that a woman with a past such as her's was not suitable for the pastor's son. The church began to fight and argue about the matter. So they decided to have a meeting. As people made their arguments, tensions increased and the meeting began to get completely out of hand.
The young woman became very upset about all of the things being brought up about her past. As she began to cry, the pastor's son stood to speak. He could not bear the pain it was causing his wife-to-be.
He said, “My fiancee's past is not what's on trial here. What you are questioning is the ability of the blood of Jesus to wash away sin. Today you have put the blood of Jesus on trial. So does it wash away sin or not?” The whole church wept as they realized they had been slandering the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Too often, we will use a person's past or mistakes as a weapon or means to pass judgment on our fellow man's worthiness. Forgiveness is the very foundation of our salvation. It is essential. If the blood of Jesus cannot wipe away the sins of others completely, then it can not cleanse us of our sins completely either. Without this purifying forgiveness we are all doomed. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! It is so important for us to remember that the Lord's forgiveness is forever, He will not snatch it away the first time we make another mistake.
Thus lies the other consequence of judgment. If others are undeserving of compassion and forgiveness because they have sinned, we too are undeserving. So how are we to respond instead? We can again turn to the Bible for the answer.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” -Ephesians 4:29
It is not our place to condemn each other for our errors. Ephesians tells us to build each other up so that we may all experience the Lord's grace. We do this by loving, forgiving, encouraging, and caring for one another. Quite simply put, it comes down to unconditional love. With unconditional love and God's forgiveness there is no need to pass judgment on those who have sinned. The Lord loves us no matter what our mistakes. We are to love others as the Lord loves us. We should not love someone simply because we think they deserve it. We should love others because we do not deserve it either. We are all sinners, we are all flawed, and we all have the same potential for redemption. Do not mistake the showing of unconditional love as condoning the behavior. Rather, it is the acknowledgment of the power of the blood of Jesus to conquer the curse of sin in others, as well as in ourselves.
As it has been quite some time since our last blog post, it seems like a good idea to share the wonderful changes that have been taking place here at the Caring Pregnancy Center. Perhaps the most momentous of these happenings is the addition of our new ultrasound machine. Thanks to the overwhelming support of the Knights of Columbus and other private donations, as of January we are now able to offer free, limited, diagnostic ultrasounds to our clients.
Why the need to go medical and offer ultrasounds? The answer is quite simple: life. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, some mothers can sometimes feel confused as to what to do next. Should they keep the baby, put it up for adoption, or have an abortion? As a Christ-centered ministry, we at the Caring Pregnancy Center would hope that these mothers would choose life for their babies. The ultrasound machine is an amazing tool to help show these moms-to-be that the fetus they carry is not just "a clump of cells." The baby in their womb is so much more than that. It is a precious human life. Seeing their baby's heart beat and watch as he squirms and kicks on the ultrasound screen makes the pregnancy truly real to them. The ultrasound helps foster a connection between mother and child that they may not have previously felt.
We felt so strongly about the potential benefits of ultrasound that the center first began offering ultrasounds to clients by an off site provider five years ago. The results were astounding. Every single mom-to-be who had an ultrasound ultimately choose life for her baby. The power of this option to young mothers cannot be more evident than in the scan of one abortion-minded client. Though she was certain that an abortion was the way she should and would go, the client consented to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound technician moved the transducer across her stomach, revealing the baby's profile. It was at this moment, as the client, her significant other, parent, and the client advocate watched the screen, that the baby turned its head and waved. At that moment, a bond was formed. The client now no longer viewed her pregnancy as just a fetus. It was a baby, her baby, someone to whom she now felt connected.. That once abortion-minded mom-to-be went on to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
It soon became clear that if an off site ultrasound studio could be so effective, how much more so would one be on site. With our new capability to provide these limited, diagnostic ultrasounds at the Caring Pregnancy Center we are able to reach pregnant moms in crisis much sooner. Since the ultrasound annex went live in January, sixteen clients have received an ultrasound. Two of these were abortion-minded. We are happy to announce all sixteen moms, including the two leaning toward abortion, have chosen to carry their babies to term. Praise the Lord!
In other news, the Hy-Vee team competing at the Food Fight for this year's Globe Gazette Women's Expo took first place in the competition. The Hy-Vee team was so kind to choose us as the charity to receive free advertisement in the Globe Gazette. What a blessing this was to the center and to our clients. Our most whole-hearted thanks to Hy-Vee East and Hy-Vee West for thinking of us! Our first newspaper ad ran on March 15. Three more ads will run on May 15, July 5, and September 6.
In conjunction with the newspaper advertisement, the Caring Pregnancy Center also has an ad appearing on the digital billboard by the North Iowa Events Center near Target. We were able to purchase time on the digital billboard thanks to a generous grant awarded to us by the Kinney-Lindstrom Foundation. The ad will run during the months of March, June, and September.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read "Today at the CPC". It is our goal to keep posting much more frequently. As always, we are so appreciative of all the support we receive from the community, whether it be financial, donations, volunteers, referrals, or through prayer.
May God bless you all!
Caring Pregnancy Center
Hi, my name is Jennifer Hanson, and I am a counselor at the Caring Pregnancy Center. I worked in the office for the first year and then started my training to become a counselor. Now I have been a counselor for a year and I have been enjoying every moment of it.
I like to share with you a story about a young lady I know. This girl was raised by two very loving parents and 4 siblings in a home that was full of love and fun. She always felt he was loved and cared for from a very young age. Her parents went to church almost every Sunday and she grew up saying her prayers at night and before each meal. She was taught to be grateful for what God had given to her and that she shouldn’t ask for anything for herself because there were people far worse off then she was so she should be happy with that.
In her pre-teen years at the age of 11, nearly 12, she lost her dad. He died of a heart attack at the age of 56. After that, she grew up thinking, for some reason that she had to do whatever it took to keep a guy around. Maybe because her dad had died and maybe because she got in with the wrong group of kids and started making poor choices in her life. One day when she was grounded, again, because she was getting into trouble a lot...She ran away from home with a guy she knew from the previous year. The hopped on a motorcycle and headed West. Within a couple of days she had returned home, knowing that leaving home with someone you barely know was not the answer. (To read the rest of the story click Read More)
Have you ever noticed how one day can be so different from another? Some days we wake up feeling ready to face whatever the day holds. The very next day can be the exact opposite as we fear what's ahead and don't know how we are going to cope. When I look back on one of those harder days, I usually notice that I overlooked a very important part of the day: taking a few minutes to give the day back to the Lord.
The Bible says, "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." This was written by David in Psalm 5:3. David knew that he needed to put his concerns and requests before the Lord each day and then wait for answers and direction. According to the Psalm, David's time of day for this was morning. But our God is always ready to hear our concerns, and He waits for us to meet Him anytime of day. Taking time with Him is the only way we will find His peace, comfort and direction. It's the only way we will know His will for us.
A day is a gift from God. We do Him great honor by returning it to Him for use as He see fit. Only then are we able to live in a way that will fulfill our intended purpose, but most importantly, glorify God! And God does promise to meet us, as He says in Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
The Caring Pregnancy Center will be closed January 23rd due to inclement weather, sorry for any inconvenience.
It seems the beginning of a new year always causes us to stop and consider our hopes and expectations for the days that wait ahead. While many of us make New Year's resolutions and plans, another approach is to ask, "What does God want me to do in the year ahead?"
The Bible says that God does have a plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Not only does God have a plan for us, but it's one that's meant to help us and not hurt us! And it's designed to give us hope and a future.
While we all live with problems, fears and the unknown, the troubles we face are the result of sin, and not from God. And He can take them and use them for our good and growth. We never have to worry about what the future holds. God is already there, and He knows our needs exactly. He's already provided the answer to today's problems. He's already made a way out of troubles that seem unsolvable. He already has turned what seems to be insurmountable into something good. All of this is ours if we only ask Him to show us the next step.
Because of God's promises and provisions we can begin our year with hope and the assurance that because He loves us so very much, He'll provide everything we need. Be encouraged in 2014 to live fearlessly! Ask God for His guidance and direction, then follow His lead so that He may bless you with the plans for good He has already made just for you! Remember God's words: (I have) "plans to give you a hope and a future."