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A Testimony of Hope



Hi! I’m Kristy. I was born and raised in western Colorado. I am a business owner and leadership trainer with my husband Bryan. My two kids made Bryan a family man right away, and now he has the pleasure of learning how to parent a teenager and an adult. I kind of threw him into the fire with the teenager, didn’t I? He’s so great with the boys, though. It’s been an amazing time! To round out our family we have a trio of furballs- two cats and a highly spirited pup. You may think I’m super busy with all of this, but I’m blessed to have plenty of time to follow my passions. Art, music, travel, gardening, blogging, and volunteering (most notably with The Pregnancy Center) are the passions that drive me. I love to read and learn new things. Recently I read a book about personality traits. The test in the first chapter says I am a Sanguine/Choleric type. That tracks.


Now that you have an idea of who I am, let’s get to why I am writing this. I was invited to speak to you today about life. Not just my life, though. It’s about how I found myself on my knees in complete adoration of my Creator in the midst of the most terrifying, challenging, and character-building period of my early life, and the very beginning of my son Kellen’s.


In the beginning of the year 2000 I was 14 years old. My great passion was music. I sang all the time, played multiple instruments, and never found myself far from a radio. At school I made a friend who enjoyed music as much as I did. I thought he was kind of cute, so over time I developed a bit of a crush on him. I probably mentioned his name in my diary once or twice. One day after school I learned that my friend was into me. I was so shy, and I just wanted it to be true so badly. I wanted someone to really pay attention to me. Over the next few weeks he groomed me, saying nice things to draw me out of my shell. He would wink at me in the hallway, then act as if I didn’t exist in front of his popular friends. To me, it was proof that hanging out with him would eventually pull me out of the “nerd zone.” Then came the day when he lured me away from my own friends, turned up the radio, and raped me right there at school. The betrayal left me so raw, feeling so defeated. My brain seemed to shut off and freeze that day. I haven’t been the same since. After 22 years I still remember the roughness of the floor, the mockery in his voice, the song that was on the radio, the threats.


About a month later I stood in the doorway of my friend’s bathroom with a white stick in my hand. Michele had insisted I take half a day off from school to do this, because it seemed like I was always missing half a day anyway. I just never felt well. I shook my head and stared down at two pink lines as my friend screamed. Positive. Pregnant. Tears came later, but those lines had appeared almost instantly. I was carrying the child of my attacker. Did you just have a reaction to that revelation? Did your thoughts shout “Kill it!” ? Not mine. I just froze. Over the next few days, then weeks, then months, I heard various versions of that reaction from seemingly well-meaning people of all ages. I was told I should be horrified at my situation, and that nobody would blame me if I wanted to just “get rid of it.” Abortion. It was an abstract idea for me at 14. I didn’t ever seriously consider it. I thought abortion would have made my struggle all about the guy who betrayed me. But it was never about him. It was about the two pink lines on the pregnancy test that represented a new thing- us! Two lives in one. I just couldn’t bear to make it about anyone else. The baby was going to be born. I had choices to make, but ending a life would not be one.

Telling my mom was the toughest part. I thought she’d disown me. Nobody would believe me if I told them I didn’t participate willingly in the act of making this baby, would they? Because I didn’t trust people to believe me, I didn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t sleep the entire night before I sat up in bed one morning, immediately grabbing my stomach. I felt nauseated just like I had every morning for a week. My mom knocked on my bedroom door, and then came in to check on me. She seemed concerned as she asked whether I’d be going to school that morning. And then she asked the question I had been dreading. “Are you pregnant?” I had to answer, so I swallowed hard and said “Yeah,” bracing myself for whatever was to come next. My mom cared so much for me. She hugged me and, through tears, asked if I’d go to the Pregnancy Center with her. A friend of hers from church was a consultant there. I agreed.


Diane at the Pregnancy Center was an angel. She was positivity and calm and peace personified. She filled me with hope I didn’t think I deserved. She did encourage me to tell the authorities what had happened, but I said no. It was my doctor who reported my rape after our first visit. My life was a mess for quite a while after that. The justice system was the most traumatizing part. I don’t have enough time to list the ways I was hurt by the police and the courts, but it was significantly damaging to me as a young girl with none of the experience they assumed I’d had. Diane counseled and prayed for me. I was so depressed at times. I know I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for her love and support. She encouraged me to get involved in church, where I did make friends. The ladies there even threw me a baby shower! I read a quote recently that summed up this part of my life beautifully: “You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.”


Now, conception is tricky to pin down, so I don’t know the exact second the new life within me began, but I do know when I could truly appreciate that it had. I was so green with morning sickness on the day of my first prenatal doctor visit that I almost didn’t go. I am so glad I did make it, though! That day I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat. It was whooshing about a million miles per hour (slight exaggeration). I fell in love that very moment. This was my baby. No trauma, no police interview, no courtroom noise or judgemental comment from a random bystander could drown out that perfect little whoosh-whoosh. That was when I told God, “I’m doing this.” I imagine that’s also when I began to understand a quote that I learned much later: “Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us.”


 

If you like to journal, you might appreciate some of my diary entries from back then:


7 Weeks! Baby is as big as a blueberry. I was told by an adult I know that they could crush a pill up into my dinner and I wouldn’t have to keep the baby. (After this I heard, “Are you gonna keep it?” and “Are you hungry?” at least once a week.)


9 Weeks! Someone told me it’s going to look like him…


13 Weeks! Baby is as big as a pea pod. Baby has fingerprints! He or she is a unique individual human being!



Holding my nephew when I was 10 weeks pregnant.


18 Weeks! All I want to eat is sweet and sour chicken and fried rice. A note was passed to me in class today. I unfolded it to find a drawing of Prego pasta sauce. People say I should give up the baby to a better family. I don’t know, should I?


30 Weeks! I’m having a boy! They say he’s the size of a small melon, but I think it’s closer to a baby elephant… I hope he looks more like me…


38 weeks! I fell today when I got up to answer the phone. Now I’ll probably have these cartoon band-aids on my knees when the baby’s born.

-The next Day- I have high blood pressure. The doctor is going to induce me- baby boy will be here in a couple more days!


 

I had a long labor, but, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” That’s the TL;DR version of this quote, which I like better: “Nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”


Motherhood came with some ups and downs - I had to have surgery when Kellen was just two months old, so he joined me in the children’s hospital room as I recovered. It was Christmas Eve, so candy-stripers brought us toys that had been donated. We picked out Scooby Doo plushies. We still love watching Scooby Doo shows together.


Kellen had emergency surgery when he was two. His tonsils had swollen up so large that he couldn’t breathe. After he recovered, we would say to each other whenever things got rough “We’re a team.” When I was diagnosed with cancer before my husband and I got together, Kellen texted me “We got this, Mom, we’re a team.”


I joked with Kellen when he was almost seven years old that he was too young for 7-Up. He would have to wait another month to have one. He still holds that against me! Bryan made a good point when we told him that story: At least I never had him make an appointment to get Dr. Pepper.


I asked people to describe Kellen one time for a birthday project. I got so many great responses. He’s a person who makes people smile, he gives the best hugs, he’s a math nerd, a creator, a music lover, the BEST big brother, a generous guy, a great listener, he loves to learn, he’s great at teaching stuff, he LOVES Chinese food, and he’s even been called a life saver. To me, he’s my first best friend, my teammate. Kellen walked me down the aisle at my wedding. I had tears in my eyes, he took my arm and said, “Hey Mom, we’re still a team. The team just got bigger.” Then he tried to goof up our steps with a “Left, other left, no right, now the other left again.” I love my goofball so much!


Our story is forever unfolding and surprising me. I have learned so much just trying to be a good mother to Kellen and his little brother. I’ve had to ask tons of questions and make lots of changes. It hasn’t always been perfect. But I truly, deeply feel like Mother Teresa was divinely inspired when she said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” If you’ll allow me to pour into you just a bit more, I have some thoughts to share on where we go from here, as individuals as well as a community. I come from a background of trauma, and for a long time I only felt worth something if I was told by someone that I was worth something. What would I say to someone like me? I’d say, “Find the people who will be supportive of you, ask for help, and work on yourself.”


I have found five of the most common activities for healing emotional trauma in my research, and I’d like to share them with you now.

  1. Ask for and accept help from others

  2. Connect with people (peers and mentors)

  3. Help others / volunteer (You can start with James 1:27 if you need ideas.)

  4. Move your body - exercise!

  5. Mindfulness, Meditation (prayer), and Gratitude - Find something to be thankful for daily!


Finally, be a learner. Ask lots of questions, find out why you believe what you believe. I have been learning from a few different mentors, so I’ll paraphrase right now from them. For me, once I had a good grasp of why I believed what I believed, all the negative comments were like spitballs off a battleship! When you encounter a person in crisis, try to leave them feeling encouraged, loved, and filled with hope. I am inspired by a poem Emily Dickinson wrote about hope. Here it is:


Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.


And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.


I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet never in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.




So let’s be the community who takes people in crisis under our wings of hope! Let’s be there to encourage each woman who doesn’t know what to do now that she is pregnant. Lift her up, comfort her, and show her just how precious her life is. Every life is immeasurably precious. She is worth so much that Jesus gave up His own life for her! Tell her she is worth it, because the more she feels she’s worth, the more the life within her womb is worth. God bless you all!





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