Thursday, July 23, 2015

Students For Life Of Michigan 10th Anniversary Party

On April 23rd this year, Students For Life of Michigan turned 10! Founded by Katie Wilcox at Michigan State University in 2005, Michigan kicked off its new Pro-Life presence on college campuses all over the state. In that time, we started with just six Students For Life groups. Since then, expanding by eight to ten new groups a year, we have now grown to forty-two groups across the state. Executive Director, Christen Pollo says, "10 years is an exciting milestone. We've seen so much success on campuses over the past few years and are excited to play the lead role in the development of pro-life students in Michigan."

You can see that there was quite the reason to celebrate! So, in order to do just that, Mary Verwys invited us to her home in Grandville so we could have our 10th anniversary party! Mary Verwys, well known sidewalk counselor in Grand Rapids and author of "Wednesday Mourning", has been a close friend of SFLM's for years. Along with Mary, others in attendance included Students For Life members, Young Professionals For Life members, an adoption counselor, and other dedicated pro-lifers from the state. This party was a great chance for all guests to meet one another, share experiences of events and other activities, and stay connected for future pro-life networking. We got to have some delicious refreshments, spend some time together, and listen to Mary Verwys' very comical and very motivational stories of saving lives. We always love hearing from her!

The party was very successful and by the end of the night it was very hard to leave. I am very proud of how much our pro-life community has grown in the last ten years and how well we are all connected. We are very thankful to all who came to celebrate with us and to Mary Verwys for not only opening her beautiful home to us, but for her service to all the women and babies in need. Students For Life of Michigan has become one giant family full of love. We are so excited to see what the years ahead will bring!

Friday, March 13, 2015

40 Days For Life

I know I'm a little late on this, but I wanted to post a special blog for this season because it is now Lent! For over these 40 days, we remember the sacrifices that Jesus went through to save us, we keep them holy and in our hearts, and we ourselves make small sacrifices in comparison until the anniversary of when He has risen. This year I decided to give up pop, candy, and some social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Line. My lack of other communications may be the reason I am blogging a little more lately, but I'd like to think that maybe I am just in tune a little more to inspiration and the desire to share my thoughts with all of you. But, the Lenten season isn't just about having the lack of something, but more so adding a little extra of something for God. So, this year I am trying to pray the Rosary and do something Pro-Life at least once a day. Wrap those two together and we got 40 Days For Life!

With 40 Days For Life founders, David Bereit and Shawn Carney

40 Days For Life is a global program that takes place twice a year, one of those times being during lent. For 40 days straight, an amazing collection of Pro-Lifers show up outside of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion clinics everywhere to provide a presence of standing against abortion.  Everyone takes their turns at scheduled time slots and stands outside for an hour or so. During the time we are outside of the clinics, we stand witness and we pray. This is the time when I like to use my rosary for life that I got in DC the day of the march. Each bead has a womb with a baby inside and each time you say it your prayers are multiplied by ten.  Fr. Frank Pavone (President of Priests For Life) has agreed to bless my rosary, however I have yet to catch that busy man. In this time of prayer we compare the suffering the babies are put through to that of what Jesus went through. Most of the time we are outside of the clinics it is very cold! We bundle up as much as we can but it is very likely that our toes and fingers feel completely frozen by the end of the prayers. We choose to either bring signs or not, and face the clinic so we can direct our prayer to them rather than be distracted by what's going on on the street. 40 Days For Life was actually the very first Pro-Life activity I ever did when joining the movement, how I met my SFL family. I remember seeing friends drive by and stare at me. I felt nervous and even a little embarrassed. Since then, I have faced being yelled at, flipped off, cussed out, and even received a death threat in the five years I've been doing this. But just like Jesus, we have crosses to bear for good will.  I remember one friend saying, "Oh please tell me you're not one of those crazy people who protest outside of the clinic!" "Why, yes I am... and proud of it! I was out there this morning and I'll be there tomorrow!" You see, even though we may face tons of negativity from people, any reaction is a good one. Our presence outside of those gates forces them to think about abortion when they might not have otherwise and it lets them know that we are thinking about it too. The women that may be going in to kill their children will think about this too. They will see our presence and feel our directed prayers. This is how 40 Days For Life has saved hundreds of children and women. After going through Stations with my Sunday School students too, it's clear to me that we must carry crosses for Jesus too.

So, this year, although for the first time since being active in 40 Days For Life I am now living far away from the closest abortion clinic, I challenge both myself and all of you to stand witness to this amazing movement outside of your nearest abortion clinic at least once a week. For those of you in or near Kalamazoo, MI, Students For Life from WMU will be at Planned Parenthood 4201 W. Michigan Ave. every Monday during this season from 5 to 6. I'm going to try to get myself and my group there during the weeks as well. Thursdays and Fridays are abortion days so these are very important for making an impact. Signs like, "Abortions are taking place here today. Please pray. " are very helpful. Free parking is available across the street at Alternatives Pregnancy Center, however if you do have signs they ask that you park down the street instead as to not scare away potential patients choosing life.

These are our crosses we must carry for life. Happy Lent!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

St. Jude

For those of you that don't know yet I would like to announce that I now have a big girl job! I went in to a nervous interview with a St. Cecilia prayer card in my pocket as she is my confirmation saint, the patroness of music, and someone I keep very close to me at all times. Shortly after, I started training and received word that I got the job! So... I am now the newest sound board operator for Midwest Family Broadcasting! I graduated with a degree in Telecommunications, a minor in music, and studied audio engineering on the side, so can this be any more perfect? Actually it could... I could also be working towards the good of my third expertise... the Pro-Life movement.

I had worked a couple days so far when I had been told I would be working for a very important event for one of our radio stations, Y-Country. (..and I am in love with Country!)  I was excited, but nervous because I would be the only new person working this event. But here was my answer for an opportunity at the Pro-Life movement! So, last week we held the "Country Cares" event called, "St. Jude Radiothon". This is a live event in which we fundraise money for children with cancer at St. Jude Research Hospital for two days straight. We started last Thursday and it was my job to cue in the stories told from patients and parents with a touching song playing in the background. As you could imagine, I was bawling my eyes out in the studio and on my way home.... but of course St. Cecilia was around my neck to guide me. One story I played, shared from a mother, was about a girl named Zoey.  Zoey was very young and dying of cancer when she woke up one morning and told her mom that during the night before, there were angels in her room. She described them to her, told her they were at the end of her bed, and that they had told her, "Everything's gonna be okay." The next morning Zoey woke up again and said, "Mommy, the angels were in my room again last night but this time Jesus was with them and he brought his momma. They said it's okay for me to leave, but I told them 'no'. I don't wanna leave you, momma." The mother looked down at her little girl with tears in her eyes and said, "Honey, don't worry about me. If they say it's okay for you to go with them then you can go." The next morning Zoey came to her mother once more and said, "Mom the angels were in my room again last night. They said I can go with them, but I have to wait for Uncle Chad." The mother called her brother Chad and he drove up to see her right away. After visiting with her for awhile and saying his goodbyes, Chad stepped out of the room. Zoey looked up at her parents, said 'I love you', and took her last breath. This story touched me in ways you couldn't believe. It is very powerful and very comforting. I couldn't imagine losing my child to something completely out of my control, but am so happy that this particular mother knew her baby was in good hands. Along with the tear inducing stories I also got to hear what an amazing place St. Jude's is. I learned how they use decorated wagons rather than wheelchairs, host graduations and prom, make homemade meals with children's family recipes, make being there feel like a vacation, and extend the life of these children. After a two day emotional experience of the St. Jude Radiothon, I can easily say that I will support this hospital for the rest of my life and someday hope to even make the trip for a visit. Cancer is a horrible disease and life is precious. These children need us. I was very honored to be working towards this event and all in all it was very successful! On Thursday I even got an on-air shoutout and by the end of Friday, we raised $28,590 for St. Jude Research Hospital.

So, as I am sitting in the Cosy studio right now (for the very first time) running the board for the "Warm Your Heart" event which fundraises for those who are cold this winter I am reminded once again that this Pro-Life movement is about so much than just being against abortion. This is about being FOR LIFE in all aspects, at any stage, for any reason, improving the quality of life, giving meaning to it, caring for others, and just... LOVE.

O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honoureth and invoketh thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of.
Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of.
Come to mine assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity.
I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favour, to always honour thee as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee.

If you would like to become a Partner In Hope for St. Jude Research Hospital,  it costs $20 a month or 66 cents a day. Please call 1-800-822-6334 to donate.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

March For Life 2015

OK, so I've had enough recuperation time from my trip to finally blog about it. If I could summarize it into one word it would definitely be AMAZING! However, fortunately (or unfortunately) for you I love writing! With that being said I will be using quite a few words here. I don't know how it's even possible to put my emotions and experience into words, but I will try. Here goes...

I'll just start by saying thank you to all of you wonderful Pro-Lifers who are in this movement! We really are a movement to say the least because we really do MOVE! As some of you know, I had gone to D.C. for the March For Life. This was my fourth time attending and I just gotta say... it never ceases to amaze me how overwhelmingly inspired and touched I get every single darn year by seeing our movement in action. Like...OMG...just..again....AMAZING!!

After a very stressful and chaotic fiasco with the "perfect" marching boots (Let's just say, two rights make a wrong. :|) I was finally on the road... seam busted suitcase, blow-up pillow, and all. My trip started out by driving to Kalamazoo where I met up with my friends from Students For Life at Western Michigan University. We piled into the party van and drove to Grand Rapids where we met up with all of the Students For Life of Michigan and got on the charter. Yes, I know I am no longer a Student For Life, but whatever... I was repping YPL and who can resist one last trip with that awesome group?

So, after a very long drive and very uncomfortable positions of bus sleeping we arrived in D.C. We all piled into a storage room to make small changes to our outfits and brush our hair for once. No showers. My friends and I found a quick breakfast and then a coffee shop where Alissa (my best friend/President of SFL at WMU) and I could hold up the extended bathroom line by locking ourselves in to brush our teeth, fix our hair, and apply makeup. We had to look perfect.  And it was rally time! We were ready with handwarmers and all. Every year I have to make sure I am able to attend the rally.  So to the National Mall we went. This is where you get to see how united we really are. I look around to see elderly, students, children, Catholics, Protestants, atheists, voters, politicians, everyone all there united with each other to stand for life. I was really pleased with the inspiring speakers this year. Kristan Hawkins (President of SFLA), political leaders, post abortive people, religious leaders, all amazing. Finally, it was the moment I had been waiting for. The March For Life! We marched on Capitol Hill up to the Supreme Court. There were 650,000 of us to make a statement to our government on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade that the law should be overturned. For those of you who don't know because the liberal media refuses to report it, this is the largest protest in all of the universe. I was so happy to be a part of it! Crowded with Pro-Lifers around me, not seeing from end to end, I was standing up for those who can't... including family members. While walking through the march,  you see signs with quotes, groups names, represented schools, Catholic leaders of every order including Friars and seminarians, graphic images, and passion. What you hear is more powerful though... Chants, tears, and prayers. Oh, the prayers. I absolutely love hearing an overwhelming amount of  Hail Marys being recited all around me. I was happy I got a chance to break in my two Pro-Life Rosaries. What better time and place to do so right? At the end of the march, we came upon the Supreme Court where everything had started 42 years ago. There we saw some signs FOR abortion... and sure enough there were about a handful of Pro-Choice counter-protestors. I tried to get closer, as well, I love arguing. By the time I reached where they had been, they disappeared. Come to find out these Pro-Choicers had attempted to hold back all 650,000 of us and block our protest. Aw, bless their hearts. :D Needless to say... they were arrested. Again, I was just so moved. Another march successful! Shortly after, we walked another couple miles to the Pro-Life expo where we got some free books and talked to organizations. I got to hear a testimony from one woman that had been conceived in incest rape. She told us how much she loved her life and her mission was to end the "exceptions" thinking because her life has just as much value as anyone else's. After the expo, we finally got to check into our hotel rooms and relax for a bit. It may seem obvious, but ladies, boots with 2 inch wedges and another 2 inches of heels is NOT ideal for marching. Ouch! They were cute and they were fierce! After relaxing, laughing until we cried, and annoying all the neighboring rooms of groups ("Oh, that Western group!") we got to go out to eat for dinner and drinks. These moments with this group of people who I call some of my very best friends are the ones I cherish. After dinner, a few of us got to do some sight seeing and take LOTS of pictures. Ol' Abe is always my favorite. After we hobbled back to our hotel room once again exhausted, (Flats aren't ideal either..) we finally got to sleep. I never thought I'd be so grateful to be sleeping in a bed... horizontally.

I got a few hours to sleep and wake up to do it all over again because it was conference day! The other girls slept in to do some sight seeing and tours instead of the conference so I tiptoed around the hotel room with iPhone flashlight in hand, packing all of my universe and more into that poor busted suitcase once again, got CLEAN, and fixed myself up for another big day. I got downstairs in just enough time to put my luggage into the storage room again to be stowed on the bus and to grab myself a bagel for the ride. As a new member of Allies For Life I got a free ticket into the conference and I was happy when we arrived. Being that I already graduated meant I put more thought this year into talking to and joining organizations that were represented. I was also happy to see it all again through the eyes of SFLWMU new member, Nate. It gives me a whole new look at how inspiring and moving it is. Immediately we began to run around to several tables gathering as much free things, information, and Pro-Life passion that we could get. I was stopped by a woman who worked for Family Research Council and after talking to her for awhile, she decided that I was apparently "perfect" for an internship there. She thought their President would love to talk to me so she kept calling "Josh" out from behind the wall. When he wouldn't come to talk to me, she finally told me to come back later to speak to him then. I thought, "What's this Josh's problem?!" The conference went on and again I was just so inspired! Stephanie Gray, the emotional video of aborted babies that makes me bawl every single year, finally being able to check hearing and seeing Abby Johnson off my bucket list, going total fan girl over seeing my hero, Lila Rose again, raving out to Christian Pro-Life music from Transform DJs (who I'd like to point out were wearing the shirt that my ex-bf designed), seeing a preview for the newest Jason Jones Pro-Life film, talking with the Sisters For Life about a possible future retreat experience, AND seeing the DUGGARS (19 Kids & Counting).... including JOSH Duggar... who was introduced to us as the president of the Family Research Council! So that's who was hiding from me, ya little sneak! These were just to name a few of the awesome things at the conference. Walking away with stickers, pins, books, education, and of course more inspiration than you could ever imagine once again for the fourth year, it was another day I will never forget.

Our bus was there to pick us up with my other best friends already stowed away and we were off again on a long trip home. We had to switch buses at 3 in the morning, because well we just didn't have our annual fiasco yet, that's why, but we could finally sit still and SLEEP! Oh, and there was some Fox movie? Anyways, like I said in the beginning... this trip was AMAZING! As I am home now and fall back to normal ins and outs of life I look around me and appreciate life and all of the blessings within it that God has given me just a whole lot more. No, I am not on something as I write this, but we are all just beautiful people. I mean it. So, in summary I don't care if you are black, white, brown, yellow, purple, short, tall, prodigal, disabled, conceived in rape, incest, love, or a one night stand... you are here for a reason and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
Every life is a gift and that is why we march.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Pro-Life Groups are Essential to College Campuses

Coming down the hill from my college apartment to the end of the street where my bus stop was bothered me more and more everyday. My bus stop was directly in front of Planned Parenthood. I knew that as I would wait to be taken to school I had to stand silently while several lives were being taken right behind me. On a particular day, when the reality of it became too much for me, I looked around to see if it bothered anyone else waiting for that bus. A mix of headphones, last minute notecards, and weekend conversations surrounding me made me feel as if I was the only one who noticed. I couldn't stand there silently anymore. Something has to be done! But how? Shortly after that thought I was faced with someone new at that bus stop... a sidewalk counselor, finally someone who cared too! After asking her what I could do, she led me to the Students for Life group at Western Michigan University. This group would soon become my best friends, my family, my home. I then knew how to solve this problem.

Joining the Pro-Life movement and my Students for Life group was a very easy decision for me. I made a ton of friends and most of my current friends were very supportive. However, not everyone around me was as warm to the thought of it as I had hoped.  I'd always get asked, "Why do you bother? Do you really think you're going to make a difference?" So here it is. College Pro-Life groups do two things on their campuses in order to turn that tide and make a difference; One, bring those who are silent about their Pro-Life stances out of the shadows and into the movement and two, change the hearts of those who think abortion is an acceptable option for pregnancy. In order to bring Pro-Life people out of silence, Students for Life groups offer a welcome, caring environment to join so that students know they will not be alone. In a "politically correct" world, they are faced with what abortion does to us as humans; how it affects babies, mothers, fathers, and everyone in between. They become bothered with this and directly face their stance. Students for Life groups offer a way to stand up for that very position. Changing hearts to convert to the Pro-Life movement gets a little messier, but can be done just the same. There are three types of people that Students for Life groups think of in this aspect; people who take a stance for the Pro-Choice side, people who are faced with a pregnancy and have a very important decision to make, and post-abortive people who may feel either good or guilty about the decision they have already made. Students for Life groups help all of these types of people in a caring, compassionate manner. They expose abortion for what it really is, face people with reality, and ask logical questions to make others think about what they are accepting. They offer forgiveness, advice, donations, an ear to listen, hope, and most importantly a chance at a better life. With the presence of a Pro-Life group, people are subjected to thinking about abortion in a way that they may have never been opened up to. They let people know that life does matter!

Programs like Pregnant on Campus Initiative, Genocide Awareness Project, The Planned Parenthood Project, Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, and 40 Days for Life are available for providing students with resources and education. Events such as flyering, tabling, speaker events, movie nights, going undercover, and countless others that Students for Life groups are hosting are opening minds.  I have seen victims of abortion and how it affects them and I have firsthand seen what Students for Life does to change that. Students are the biggest targets of Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics to prey on and as young people it is our power and duty to stand against it. Students for Life is at the heart of the Pro-Life movement. They educate, challenge, support, and care about their fellow students. They open their minds, change their hearts, save lives, and change the world. So here's my answer. Yes! Yes, I do think that I am going to make a difference and I know that Pro-Life groups on college campuses are already making a difference. The tide is turning!