"Jennifer writes in a way that invites you on her journey of healing. With great depth and insight she encourages others to step onto the path of healing. The book will be a useful tool for those who want a deeper walk with the Lord." -Linda Cochrane, author of Forgiven and Set Free
When twenty-something Jennifer Disney discovered she was pregnant, she didn't feel overjoyed. Instead, guilt and shame nearly paralyzed her with fear. With a bright future ahead, she convinced herself that abortion was the only answer. On that fateful day, she made the decision to abort the baby, a choice that would forever change her life.
Up from the Ashes tells Jennifer's remarkable true story of courage, faith, and healing from the devastating emotional and spiritual effects of her abortion. With refreshing candor, she shares her uphill battle of how she struggled to find relief from the constant emotional pain from her choice, and how this very struggle inspired her to reach out to others affected by post-abortion trauma.
Divided into easy-to-read sections with a uniquely Biblical perspective, this part-guide, part-memoir delves into the most difficult issues surrounding abortion and offers help and hope to women in need of both. Jennifer's compassionate words accompany blank journal pages that encourage reflection and participation for sufferers, and create a safe, loving environment for recovery.
For those lost in post-abortion trauma, Up from the Ashes offers the promise of hope and healing, and reveals the true power of faith and forgiveness.
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Read an Excerpt
Up from the AshesA Handbook for Healing
By Jennifer L. Disney
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Jennifer L. Disney
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Day My Life Changed Forever
It was all I could do to keep it in. It was all I could do to go through life with the fear that someone was going to find out what I had done. So much time was spent trying to convince myself that I was doing the right thing. The list of excuses I came up with was incredible.
"This is my body."
"I did not ask for this."
"It was a mistake."
"It will ruin my future."
"What will my family say?"
"What will people think of me?"
If you are like me, you feel shame every time someone talks about abortion. I was worried that someone was going to discover my secret, and I carried it with me for years before I could open up and share my story with other women. I had convinced myself that the only way out of my situation was an abortion. It seemed so easy going into it, and our culture had normalized it so much that it seemed to be the best path. I ignored my other options.
No one made a big deal out of it, so I figured I must have been doing the right thing. Once I told my doctor I was pregnant, it seemed like this choice was the next step in the process. He knew exactly what to do, and he knew exactly who to call. It was even a fairly inexpensive solution. It was a small price to pay for a huge mistake. My friends at the time seemed so supportive. They were telling me that I was making the right decision.
"It is just a medical procedure."
"It is not even a child yet."
"No one is going to find out."
"No one should tell you what you should do with your own body."
So I set the appointment and the day slowly approached. When the day finally arrived, I got ready in a robot-like manner and left for the clinic. Upon arriving, I was confused and angered by the crowd outside of the clinic asking me to change my decision. In a daze, I walked inside and allowed the last attempt at changing my mind to vanish. There were no words spoken in the waiting room. I just silently waited to be called inside.
Once inside, the assistants explained the procedure, I signed a bunch of papers, and they got me ready. I am sure so much more happened, but those small details seem to escape me. I was escorted to another room to put my personal belongings inside a locker, and I waited. There were other women in the room, and it seemed so strained and quiet. One by one, we were called into the room and prepared for surgery. Then the staff gave me anesthesia, and that was the last thing I remembered.
The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled into another room. Next to me were women who had been called before me. One by one, other women who had had the same procedure were wheeled in after me. It was like a factory. The women all around me were so sad. Some were crying, some were like stones, and some were trying to act cheerful. Regardless of how they were acting on the outside, if they were like me, it did not cover the fact that they felt empty on the inside. The staff tried to quickly get us ready to go home because their lunchtime was drawing near. I got dressed and went home with the person who had brought me. It was on the ride home that I realized the pain of what I had done.
It was amazing how one incident affected how I viewed the world around me for the rest of my life. I was scarred so deeply, and no matter how much I tried to put a bandage on my wound, what I really needed was some major surgery. There were so many unexplained emotions that would spring up when the topic of abortion was brought up. I wanted to defend "my choice," but I did not have the nerve. I wanted to cry every time I saw a child who was the age my child would have been. I wanted to reach out to women who were contemplating abortion, but who was I to tell them not to go through with it? I had given in to the pressure myself. I felt I was being punished when it took me more than a year to get pregnant again. I constantly felt anxious, and I could never really put my finger on the cause of this emotion. Anger, fear, depression, shame, and so much more seemed to surface in my life at different times. When these feelings would come up, I would not know why I was feeling this way. Someone would say something that would make me feel like I wanted to share, but I was too ashamed to share anything. I could never reveal my true self because of what I had done. There was always that deep, dark secret.
What are some of the emotions that are springing up inside of you? How do you feel about what I have just shared with you? Please journal in the space provided.
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I know the feeling of emptiness, and I know that there is freedom. God wants to release you from the bondage and give you that freedom. There is a reason this book has crossed your path. It is not a coincidence. Don't allow the worry and shame that someone will find out what you have done prevent you from continuing with this book.
You may be wondering why you even need to deal with your abortion. You may think, "If I am a Christian, then shouldn't the blood of Jesus cleanse me from all sin? Why do I even need this book to help me? God should be enough." And you are right, God should be enough. But it is human nature to be incapable of truly understanding the power and depth of God's forgiveness. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves and moving on. I bet that you have held this secret inside for a very long time. You were just praying no one was going to find out. You would be so amazed at how many women share your secret. Millions of abortions have occurred since Roe v. Wade. In fact, one in three women has had an abortion (Guttmacher Institute, State facts about abortion: New York, 2006). The chances that someone sitting next to you has had an abortion are very great. I hope you put your fears aside and finally allow yourself to feel and process the pain and damage done to your heart from that abortion. This book is a starting point for you to begin the healing process. This book will allow you to really understand how much abortion has damaged your soul and how God wants to take all of the pieces of your heart and put it back together again. This can happen because this book will help you to understand how much healing your heart really needs. I suggest you go through the book completely without skipping around. Healing is a process, so it is important to follow that process from beginning to end. Throughout the book, I have included different activities for you to complete. I know some of these may be difficult, but healing can be a difficult process. I would encourage you to give it a chance and to complete each step before moving on to the next.
At certain parts in this book, I refer to my son James, the child that I had aborted so long ago. Understand that as part of the healing process, it is important to pray for God to reveal the identity of your child, including the sex of your child and your child's name. This helped me realize that he was a real human being. This part of the healing process is not for your child; your child is already in heaven. This step is needed for the parent to have closure.
Once, during a powerful prayer time with a compassionate group of women, the Lord gave me a scripture through one of them. That scripture is the basis of this book.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3 (King James Version)
This book is a journey of healing through this scripture. The Lord guided me to write this book based on this scripture, and there is so much healing power in it for you. When researching the meaning of the original text in Hebrew, I came across so many enlightening definitions. I believe this verse maps out a process for women to follow that will allow them to heal from the pain of having an abortion.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion
The first part of the verse is a call to those who are mourning. Abortion brings on such a sense of loss. You not only lost a child, but you lost the child because of your choice. If you have not already done so, you need to allow yourself time to mourn the loss of that child. God is calling you to heal from this painful decision. The Hebrew word for "to appoint" means "call," "change," or "lay down." God sees your sadness and pain. He is calling you to change your thoughts and lay down that sin in order to have a healing in your heart. Now is the time for you to begin the process of healing.
To give unto them beauty for ashes
Throughout your life you have made choices, both good and bad. The bad choices have contributed to a pile of ashes that has slowly grown over the years. God wants to help us find the beauty in the ashes of our lives. These chapters will help you find that beauty once again and allow you to see yourself as God sees you.
The oil of joy for mourning
Once God has removed those ashes from your life, He wants to replace them with joy. There are so many things to be joyful for in our lives. This part of the book will help you to release mourning in your heart and to replace it with joy.
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
There is so much fear associated with having an abortion. Usually, the greatest fear is the fear that someone will find out what you have done. When they do find out, we fear that they will judge us for our decision and think less of us. It is time to take that spirit of fear and turn it around to praise God for always being there for us. When we are at the height of our fears, we need to realize that God is always with us every step of the way.
That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.
A healed woman is a powerful woman. No matter what you have done, God can use it to His end and for eventual blessings for you. He will take this tragic event and use it for His glory. There will be a time you will stand before other women who have gone through the same experience and guide them in the healing process. God wants you to use your experience to make a difference in this world. The end result will be amazing, and God will be glorified throughout it all. I am so excited for you. Completing this process will bring more to your life than you ever expected.
Before you read the next chapter, I would like you to share your beliefs on abortion. How do you feel about it? Have your views changed over the years? If they have changed, how have they changed? Use the space below to share your beliefs.
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Chapter TwoIs Abortion a Choice?
For many years, I believed that having an abortion was up to the woman. I grew up in a time when women were becoming stronger and bolder in the world. The age of the powerful woman had emerged in society. "I am woman, hear me roar" was a very popular motto for women of the sixties and seventies, and it seemed to be lived through the daughters of the eighties, nineties, and beyond.
In the past, women had felt so controlled by a society dominated by men that they were now taking back their pride with vengeance. No longer was it the norm to be a stay-at-home mom. The American dream now included a need for both parents to work. Women were not willing or were unable to sacrifice their careers to raise a family. They were handling both home and career. In fact, many women were choosing to bypass a family altogether in order to further their careers. Women often viewed children as a hindrance, especially because their careers were for themselves and, as is often the case for men, supplied their sense of worth.
This aggressive attitude in the workplace spread to the social scene as well. Many women began taking charge of their relationships and sex lives. They were tired of men being in control, and they were going to take charge now. Many women became pregnant more often because they did not think about the consequences of their reckless behavior. Instead, they thought more about doing what they felt like doing. Repression was over!
A pregnancy turned into a minor "bump" on their journey to career success and was not going to stop them. Roe v. Wade made sure of that. This critical court case gave women the right to choose what they wanted to do with the children growing inside of them. Its proponents got it through the courts by claiming that having an abortion was every woman's constitutional right, that this decision was part of her "right to privacy." We made ourselves feel better about killing a child by saying all of these lies.
Unfortunately, some women found themselves at a very young age feeling all alone and too frightened to tell their parents that they were pregnant. Others were married at the time and did not want to have children at all, or they did not want to add to the number of children they already had. Still others were trying to make sure that the men in their workforce were not going to have a leg up because they didn't have to worry about getting pregnant. Women wanted an option so they did not have to end their self-centered ways of life.
I thought I was going to be a very powerful woman one day. I felt that I could do anything I wanted and that nothing was going to stop me from fulfilling my dreams. You'd think I would have prepared more since I was so set on my goals in life. But, like many people, I acted in the emotion of the moment, became pregnant, and thought about the consequences later. In order to allow myself to feel better, I listened to all of the lies and chose to believe them. Looking back on my life at that time, and the lives of so many women, I realize how much selfish thoughts can control our every move if we let them. Do you really think that you are making your own choice? There is a real battle raging inside each and every one of us, a battle between good and evil. The world tries to sell us the lies in a pretty little package called "choice," but there is a huge price you have to pay for this package. On the other hand, God wants to give you an absolutely free present, the gift of truth.
For so many years, I walked around blinded to all of the lies of this world. I listened to the lie that I would feel so much better if I would get high, thinking the drugs would help. I listened to the lie that I would feel more loved if I had sex with that man. And I listened to the lie when I got pregnant that it was my body and that I should have the choice to do with it as I pleased because there would be no consequences.
Women today cry for independence and for the ability to take charge of their lives. They are not in charge of their lives. They allow evil to speak lies to them and steer them down a path of destruction. If I am making you angry right now, it is probably because I am speaking truth to your heart.
If you think I am one of those women who always had these beliefs, you are wrong. One year I helped organize a Walk for Choice in Los Angeles. I went to the AIDS walk in Los Angeles to promote our walk. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure women had the right to choose to have an abortion. I thought it was best for them, unaware of the damage that follows. Unfortunately, I was not fighting the right fight. I was fighting for a life of entrapment. Do you think that God wants to control your every move because He is on some sort of power trip? That is not God's nature. He loves the people of this world, and He wants nothing more for you than success, to make sure that we become the best people we can be.
How long are you going to allow the devil to influence your decisions? I know a God who cares so much for me that He has mapped out a beautiful future, far more fulfilling than a life without Him. He has taken my destructive years and has used my hurts to help other women. My God gives me choices that bring wholeness and guides me in the right direction. There are really only two choices in this world: a life of peace and a life of chaos. Aren't you tired of living the life of chaos? Now is the time to choose the life of peace. God will take care of everything; you just need to trust Him. I am not saying it is always easy because it is not. But give God the chance to carry you through those difficult times and to rejoice with you during the times of joy. I can guarantee that you will have a life that is never boring, and when you die you will live with Him for eternity.
Excerpted from Up from the Ashes by Jennifer L. Disney Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer L. Disney. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsThe Journey Begins....................1
1. The Day My Life Changed Forever....................5
2. Is Abortion a Choice?....................14
3. How We Create a Life Full of Ashes....................18
4. Finding Forgiveness....................24
5. Find Your Beauty....................31
6. Replacing Mourning with the Oil of Joy....................41
7. Healing Oil....................45
8. Finding Your Joy....................50
9. Eliminating Your Fear....................61
10. Breaking Down the Walls with Praise....................66
11. Bringing Your Broken Heart to the Lord....................69
12. What Is the Next Step in the Healing Process?....................75