Friday, September 27, 2013


You know it's a good story when you receive a book on Tuesday and finish it on Thursday of the same week without an excuse of nothing to do or too much time on your hands!  "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson kept me up late, got me up early and found its way into my purse to follow me around to the park with the kids.
This past Tuesday the thrift store was giving away free books. Steve had a chance to stop over and check out the selection and this was one of his finds. I had never heard of it before but it immediately intrigued me. Half way through the first chapter I was hooked. 
This is the story of Abby Johnson, a former employee at Planned Parenthood.  Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on - pro-life or pro-choice - this book is worth your time.  Abby does not condemn either side.  In fact, she is quick to point out that she has friends on both sides and that there are "good people" on both sides.  she says it best in the introduction:
"To this day I have friends on both sides of this polarizing debate. We all long for a story that shows that "our" side is right and good and "their" side is wrong and bad, don't we?  But I testify that there is good and right and wrong on both sides of the fence. And even more shocking - we have far more in common with the "other" side than we might imagine.  But don't slam this book (or this review!) shut because of what I've just said. Read it for that very reason....

So what side of the fence are you on?  In all likelihood as you look through the fence, you see faulty thinking and harmful behavior on the other side. Here's my question for you: are you ready to look through the fence and see goodness, compassion, generosity and self sacrifice on the other side too?  Did you feel yourself just squirm? If so, welcome to my journey (pg. xx)"
Her point being, that a person can have good intentions and motives, even if on an opposing side of the fence.  She is quite clear throughout her story about her change of heart, that she now realizes that abortion is murder - it really is a LIFE that is being taken - but she shares that before becoming pro life her motives were not necessarily in the wrong place. She had good intentions, she just was believing a lie.  She felt duped. And she regretted not coming to her own convictions and doing her own research sooner. 

This is the beautiful story of Abby's journey into Planned Parenthood, her time spent there trying to help women and her jolting realization during an ultrasound guided abortion that pregnancy was not a mere "medical condition" but a living baby inside a living woman.
It is also a testimony of the power of prayer and a story filled with how prayer changes things.  For years The Coalition for Life had stood outside the Planned Parenthood building she ran.  They prayed, they were kind, they were friendly.  Daily she saw them praying and one day she realized the power of their prayers.  In her book she documents the years they prayed and how their prayers finally prevailed, changing her life.
Her book had several strong "take aways" for me:
One of which, was to consider the ways I/we go about trying to make changes or address abortion (and other hot topics).  She shared early in her story of protestors dressing up as the Grim Reaper and standing outside the clinic, of protestors shouting hurtful words and radicals slinging accusations outside her clinic.  She also talks about abortionists who were gunned down by "pro-life" members.  And she shares how un-helpful these demonstrations were.  If anything, she felt they rallied and bonded the pro choice staff in a common dislike of "the other side."  She also shares the quiet presence of faithful prayer warriors day in and day out that stood outside her clinic.  She shares of the kindness they showed.  The smiles they gave her each day. The flowers and card telling her they were praying for her.  She saw genuine care and love and concern from them and in the end, this is what won her respect.  I think it can be easy to get caught up in "I'm in the right" and share your "rightness" in ways that does more harm than good.  It doesn't matter how "right" you might be on a topic if you treat others wrongly in the process. This was a good reminder.
Another was a strong reminder of the power of prayer.  This must be a theme for me this year.  Just 8 months ago, Evelyn Grace's birth and recovery was one of the most powerful examples of prayer that I have ever personally experienced.  I literally have never felt prayer so strongly around me, felt so brought before the Lord in prayer, had so many people praying for me/my family or seen it so strongly at work.  This book was another - less personal but powerful nonetheless - example of how faithful prayers do make a difference.  These people prayed for over 2 years for Abby (a stranger to them) and the clinic.  They could have easily had reason to give up and move on, as they saw no immediate answers to their prayers. Yet they persisted and saw answered prayer in the end. 
Whatever you are praying for - keep praying! Don't stop pleading with the Lord....He is Faithful!
I was also struck by how human we all are - every single one of us.  None of us is perfect. We may think we have the "right answer" or are on the "right side" but we always have more to learn, we can always grow in humility and it is important to realize those you  might "oppose" (and therefore easily villain -ize in your own mind), are only human after all. They have feelings and emotions and lives too. They have their own battles and demons and hurts.  They are likely more similar to you than you care to realize...."treat others like you want to be treated" could not be more true.  Why do we think, because someone is on the opposite "side" of us that it gives us cause to treat them wrongly?  None of that is to say that one can't share your views or talk to someone about their wrong beliefs but it is to say that there is a right and a wrong way of doing it and the motive needs to come from a right heart, a humble spirit and from genuine love and a desire to restore, not a desire to be "right."
Lastly, this book made me think of the unborn.  I think of abortion and the lives lost and the unborn on occasion but it isn't frequently before my eyes and therefore is something easy to forget about.  I go through phases of passionately praying or thinking of the unborn and the topic of abortion but it isn't always as lasting and consistent as I would like.  This book renewed my desire to pray (and see the importance of it).  Will you pray? Right now? This week? And continue?  Pray for both sides of the fence, for the unborn victims in it and for eyes to be opened? 
I encourage you to check this book out for yourself - whichever "side" you might find yourself on - and challenge yourself to a new perspective and a renewed vision.  This book is sure to draw you in, change you and challenge you!


  1. This is a VERY powerful & beautiful message you wrote Sarah... I plan to read the book in the very near future. I'm so grateful that God has given you the gift of your big heart of words my dear niece... I have no other way to express my heart to you... I love you, you know?
    With continued love, hugs & prayers, Aunt nj

  2. I have also read this book and couldn't put it down. I read it after we adopted our son. I learned so many things (some appalling) that I never knew or wanted to think about at the time. It was challenging and emotional, but a very good read. Even though I have always felt a love for our son's birth mother, this book made me think of her even more and the sacrifice that she made for this beautiful boy.