Open to life, even with a 25 percent chance of cystic fibrosis
ALASKA, July 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ken and Allison Howell were leading what they considered a “charmed life.” The newly married couple were part of a Pentecostal church where the “preaching was fiery, the services long and emotional, and the music pulled one from the depths of weeping to the heights of dancing.”
But the Howell’s first child Rees, born in 1994 — four years into their marriage — was about to turn their charmed life inside out, leading them on a difficult journey that would test their marriage, their faith, and the way they valued human life.
Rees entered the world after a storybook pregnancy and birth. But by the time he was nine months old, he had contracted pneumonia twice, a rarity for a child who was breast-fed.
Further testing revealed why. Rees was found to have cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease caused by two recessive genes passed on to him from his parents.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disorder which causers abnormally thick mucus to be produced, which often leads to serious respiratory infection. Havoc wreaked on the lungs by this disorder is the primary cause of CF-related deaths.
The Howells were devastated by the news, not only because of concern for their son, but also because of their participation in what Allison refers to as the “divine health-and-wealth-teaching church.” It was impressed upon members of that church that “divine healing is an integral part of the Gospel” and that “deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.”
“Although we were scared silly, we assumed that there would be some grand miracle for Rees to showcase God’s power,” said Allison who related her story to LifeSiteNews.com.
The Howells brought their son to “prayer warriors and healing services,” desperately clinging to the idea that his “sickness was from the Devil and that our faith in Jesus’ healing power was all that was necessary for his cystic fibrosis to go away.”
But the Howells had been set up for bitter disappointment.
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When Rees’ healing did not occur, the parents were led to believe that something was wrong with their prayers, their faith, their worship, or even with their trust in God. The leaders of the sect convinced the distraught couple they must be harboring a “secret sin” and that they “didn’t love God enough, didn’t love others enough, didn’t sing enough, and didn’t speak in tongues enough.”
For the first time, Ken and Allison began to doubt each other. They began to doubt God.
“The whole thing caused great harm to our marriage, as thoughts crept in of the other one being the hindrance to healing. Our relationships with God crashed.”
Ken and Allison ceased attending church services for a year, trying to sort out the spiritual mess which they found themselves in.
“We were angry with each other, angry with God, angry with our pastors and college professors, and maybe even angry with Rees,” she recounted.
A Turning Point
But the Howells did not want to give up so easily on their Christian roots. They returned to church services, wanting to pass Christian values on to their son.
But troubles in their church’s leadership led the couple to seriously question the matter of authority. What the couple discovered through reading and research led them to the door of the Catholic Church.
“We decided to investigate the Catholic Church’s claim to be the church founded by Jesus Himself. We bought books, lots of them. We rose early to read and spent our evenings reading. We interrupted each other. We shook our heads. We were excited.”
One evening while pouring over some books, Allison remembers turning to Ken and saying: “My God, we’re going to have to become Catholic.”
“We already are in our hearts and minds,” Ken replied.
The Howells were excited to discover the Catholic understanding of suffering as redemptive. They came to recognize that their son’s illness was not a curse from God, but a calling for him and for them to bear fruit by becoming united to the mystery of Jesus’ redemptive Passion.
Along with St. Paul, the parents learned to think of suffering as “complet[ing] what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
Ken and Allison desired to grow their family, but they were scared by the knowledge that a child born to them had a 25 percent chance of having CF.
“I remember wanting someone to tell me, when all we had was Rees, that it was OK to have more children,” Allison recounted.
However, as the Howells progressed in their faith journey, they came to realize that each life is a gift. They discovered in themselves a new attitude toward life and became open to having more children, even if that meant children with CF.
They realized that “no one is guaranteed tomorrow” and that health is not all what life is about. They recognized that every life, whether with CF or not, is imbued with a “spiritual component” that is “more real and lasting” than the elusive and ephemeral happy-healthy lifestyle that many people consider to be the reason for existing.
“All life is of value and all life is in God’s Hands, no matter how long or short, how fancy or poor, how sick or healthy,” they came to see.
The couple’s newly discovered openness to life was fruitful. John was born in 1997, followed by Clare in 2001, both without CF. Then came Ian, Ambrose, Luke, and Joseph, all without CF. Adah was born earlier this year and has CF.
All Children are a Gift
Some people think the Howells are irresponsible, or crazy, for being open to conceiving children who might have CF. But Ken and Allison simply smile and tell them that “every single life can have health problems, from the moment of conception and onward through all of life.”
“No one is guaranteed anything in life,” they say. They tell people that CF is manageable and that there are ways to keep CF kids healthy.
They also point out that a child with health problems, like a Tiny Tim, brings out the best in people.
“They have ‘something’ you can’t put your finger on. They tend to be wiser. They charge into life, full-force. They make the world a better place and they want to be here.”
The most important lesson Ken and Allison say they have learned from their CF children is that “all life truly matters.”
They have seen how their own family has blossomed and grown more closer by ordering their family life around the lives of their children with CF.
“We are very close, in part because of the necessary CF care which includes things like ‘lung clapping,’ where one must pat the CF person all over the chest and back to loosen the thick mucus in order for it to be coughed up.”
Up until Rees was 10, the Howells would “hop onto the couch” with Rees to do his lung clapping (pulmonary therapy) for 20 minutes, three times a day.
“When more children came along, they would join us in the activity. Now that we have another baby with CF, the other kids argue over who gets to do ‘lung clapping’ for Adah.”
While Rees now uses a hand-held device for his pulmonary therapy, Allison is convinced that the years of hands-on therapy with her son has “forged an enviable closeness” that she says is now paying off in Rees’ teenage years.
Life is Normal with CF Kids
Rees, now 17, recently graduated high school and is looking forward to beginning college this fall.
Allison says that she cherishes her son’s every accomplishment because she knows the struggle behind what he has done.
When Rees achieved a black belt in marshal arts, Allison could hardly contain from shouting out to the crowd: “Do you people know that he has CF? Do you know that it took him a year longer to accomplish this than it took other kids? Do you know that he has lung troubles and hospitalizations?”
Rees’ recent graduation ceremony for homeschoolers had to be planned around one of his hospitalizations. He was given permission to attend the ceremony only if a nurse accompanied him. “We all met him in the city, he processed, walked, received, ate, visited, and headed back to the hospital. No one knew that under his gown was a taped-up IV tube in his arm.”
Now with little Adah following in the footsteps of her older brother, Allison says that she has the routine down pat.
“The baby needs to swallow tiny pills that I mix with applesauce before each nursing session, and she needs her scheduled ‘lung clapping.’”
The Howell family likes to spend “as much time as possible” hiking and camping in their beautiful Alaska. On their family outings, Ken and Allison make sure to bring everything that their CF children require to take part in the adventure.
“Pills, the flutter valve, and applesauce can easily be tucked into backpacks, and when a nebulizer is needed, we have an electrical converter that uses the cigarette lighter in the vehicle.”
At the end of each day, Ken and Allison rejoice in the lives of all their children. While they love their CF kids “exactly the way they are,” they nonetheless “pray every day for the researchers who are working on a cure.”
“Every child suffers in some way, whether with CF or not,” they say. “All parents can do is hold them, love them, and help them. There is an awesome mystery to life.”
The Howells have come to a simple conclusion: “Life is precious!”
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Kim Davis defeats ACLU attempt to force her to violate her conscience
ROWAN COUNTY, Kentucky, February 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - A federal judge has turned down the ACLU's attempt to force Kim Davis to violate her conscience while issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Although Governor Matt Bevin granted a religious accommodation for the county clerk to issue altered marriage licenses to homosexuals, the ACLU brought a lawsuit seeking to force Davis to issue the old forms with her full name on them.
"There is absolutely no reason that this case went so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis' First Amendment rights," said Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, who is defending Davis. "Today's ruling by Judge Bunning rejected the ACLU's request to hold Kim Davis in contempt of court."
Kim Davis is a born again Apostolic Christian who refuses to issue marriage licenses bearing her name to homosexuals, because doing so would imply her consent and participation in something the Bible deems sinful. "It's a Heaven or Hell decision," she said. Davis contacted state legislators and former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, seeking a religious accommodation that would alter the form but allow her office to recognize gay unions, to no avail.
Ultimately, she spent six days in jail last September after Judge Bunning held her in contempt of court for refusing to issue the unamended forms.
"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Senator Ted Cruz said after her arrest.
When she was released last September 8, presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Cruz showed up to wish her well.
"Lock me up" in Kim Davis' place, Mike Huckabee said. "Let Kim go."
When Davis returned to work last September 14, she allowed other employees to grant new certificates that did not have her name on them.
Deputy Rowan County Clerk Brian Mason said that Davis “confiscated all the original forms, and provided a changed form which deletes all mentions of the County, fills in one of the blanks that would otherwise be the County with the Court’s styling, deletes her name, deletes all of the deputy clerk references, and in place of deputy clerk types in the name of Brian Mason, and has him initial rather than sign.”
Matt Bevin, the Republican who would be elected governor that November, promptly granted Davis an accommodation and signed the first new regulation on abortion in a dozen years shortly after taking office.
But the ACLU sued to force Davis to issue the old certificates, anyway. Judge Bunning wrote that would be unnecessary.
"There is every reason to believe that any altered licenses issued between September 14, 2015, and September 20, 2015, would be recognized as valid under Kentucky law, making re-issuance unnecessary," wrote Judge David Bunning, a Republican whose father Jim Bunning, was a baseball great and former U.S. senator. "Under these circumstances, the court finds that Plaintiffs’ request for relief is now moot."
Since returning to work, Davis has met with Pope Francis and attended President Obama's last State of the Union address.
"From the beginning we have said the ACLU is not interested in marriage licenses. They want Kim Davis' scalp," Staver said. "They want to force her to violate her conscience. I am glad the court rejected this bully tactic."
Black pastors pray over ‘president-to-be’ Clinton right before she condemns pro-life bill
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – After pastors invoked God's blessing upon her presidential run, Hillary Clinton condemned legislation to protect babies in the womb.
The African-American ministers "laid hands" on Clinton and prayed to "decree and declare the favor of the Lord" upon Clinton, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Bernie Sanders for the Democrat nomination for president.
"President-to-Be Clinton, we decree and declare from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet that the favor of the Lord will surround you like a shield, in Jesus's name," they prayed, at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
The Clinton campaign proceeded to vigorously oppose proposed legislation in Oklahoma designed to save pre-born babies.
Oklahoman Thomas Hunter filed for a petition to change the state constitution so that it prohibits any action "that causes the death of an unborn human being" – whether abortion or post-conception "contraception."
Clinton campaign senior adviser Maya Harris came out vehemently against putting Hunter's petition on the state's ballot, calling it "unconstitutional" and "bad for the health of Oklahoma women."
Speaking on behalf of the Clinton campaign, Harris said, "This initiative petition should be challenged and, if it makes it on the ballot, rejected by Oklahomans."
Reaction to the two contradictory acts – the religious blessing and the condemnation of pro-life legislation – was swift and strong among African-American ministers.
"It is shameful to see clergy abandon the principles of the faith and engage in such heretical political pandering," the Reverend Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr. told LifeSiteNews. "These clergy represent the problem the church has in the clarity of its message and the demonstration of its worth."
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"There was a time when the church was very powerful – in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed," Rev. Childress, founder of Black Genocide, told LifeSiteNews. "In those days, the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
"So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound," Rev. Childress concluded. "So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo."
"Abortion remains the number-one killer of black Americans, higher than all other causes of death combined," Pastor Arnold M. Culbreath, a founding member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews. "Therefore, it is absolutely critical that blacks become informed, equipped, and provided with resources to end the abortion-related genocide occurring in our communities every day."
"With Hillary Clinton's extreme and consistent pro-abortion views and actions," Pastor Culbreath asserted, "it is a travesty that pastors would be more focused on laying hands on her, rather than challenging her views with credible research and making her aware of the devastating impact abortion is having on black babies, mothers, and families across America. Black lives depend on it!"
"We have the most anti-life president in office now, because Christians put him there," Pastor Walter and Darleen Moss told LifeSiteNews in a joint statement. "Will Christians continue to ignore what may be the most significant issue of the coming presidency – the issue of life?"
"If black lives matter, do black lives matter in the womb?" the Mosses asked. "The greatest curse on this nation results from the shedding of innocent blood from the womb. How can we advance if we keep killing our children?"
Then the Mosses spoke to African-American clergy who toe the Democrat party line. "If these good pastors read their Bibles, they would know that it clearly says, 'Jesus is the LIFE.' Therefore, is not pro-abortion anti-life and anti-Christ? Are we not made in the image of God? Does He not know us in the womb?"
"Pastors may be close to, if not at, apostasy to continue to endorse any candidate who endorses the murder of our children," the Mosses concluded. "That would include Hillary Clinton, a champion for eugenics and Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, the number-one killer of our babies in the USA and around the world through the United Nations."
Rev. Childress quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's insidious alliance with Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry": "'Racial discrimination ... relegates persons to the status of things. ... It is a tragic expression of man's spiritual degeneracy and moral bankruptcy.' So it is not surprising to see Hillary Clinton's negative response to recognizing infants as persons and not things."
Hunter's proposed amendment to the Oklahoma constitution would also ban "the deliberate destruction of unborn human beings created in a laboratory."
Hunter, who filed the constitutional petition in Oklahoma, explained to the Tulsa World, "The question is whether or not the Supreme Court ruling that born people have the right to kill unborn people was, in fact, constitutional in the first place."
Gov. Christie, killing rape-conceived babies (like me!) is NOT self-defense
February 9, 2016 (Savethe1) -- Children conceived in rape – like me – took a beating at the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire Saturday evening. Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Jeb Bush had some harsh words regarding the treatment of the innocent child conceived in rape, and I think their rhetoric demonstrates that they're not really committed to ending abortion, but merely doing the bare minimum to win votes from those who identify as pro-life.
For starters, Gov. Christie said, “I believe that if a woman has been raped, that is a pregnancy that she should be able to terminate.” What does he mean by “terminate”? It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I voluntarily terminated three of my pregnancies. My daughters are doing quite well now, after having labor induced. You see, you can terminate a pregnancy and still have a live baby. Normally delivery of a baby is the termination of a pregnancy. Inducing labor or performing a C-section is the premature termination of a pregnancy. But that’s not what Christie is talking about, is it? He’s talking about the termination where you have a dead baby – because he or she is killed. So what he’s saying is that my birthmother – a woman who had been raped – should have been able to kill me. Ouch! That’s not pro-life.
Then he went on to say, “The fact is that we have always believed, as has Ronald Reagan, that we have self defense for women who have been raped and impregnated because of it or been victims of incest and been impregnated for it.” Since he used the tactic of invoking President Reagan, let’s take a look at what Reagan actually said:
Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all Federal funding for abortion and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense. But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them. – Ronald Reagan, State of the Union address, January, 1988
If you’re going to invoke Reagan to bolster your position, you’d better be sure you got that right. But in case mischaracterizing Reagan’s position wasn’t bad enough, Gov. Christie outdid himself with his next statement: “I believe that they do not have to deliver that child if they believe that is an act of self defense by terminating that pregnancy.” “An act of self-defense?!” This is the kind of rhetoric you hear from abortion rights advocates – suggesting that the innocent preborn child is somehow continuing to rape the woman, and therefore, she needs to kill the baby to stop the rape. Gov. Christie, since you recognize my right as a woman to engage in an act of self defense, let me clear up your confusion: I was NOT raping my birthmother! I was not attacking her. I was innocent. I’m pleading my innocence! So here’s my advice to you – punish rapists, not babies. It’s not a difficult concept. This is my act of self defense – quit picking on innocent children like me by suggesting our lives weren’t worth living or protecting, because I fight back and I will defend my life!
Since his remarks Saturday evening, I’ve been inundated with suggestions from people that I need to talk to him and to share my story with him – just like with Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich four years ago when I changed their hearts during their presidential campaigns. Well, I DID share my story with Chris Christie, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida in August, 2012. But he’s a different character and hard-hearted. Like in the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew Chapter 13, the seeds did not fall on fertile soil. But then Jesus explained:
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.”
As if the shots from Chris Christie weren’t enough to dehumanize and demoralize my people group, Gov. Jeb Bush had insults of his own: “I am pro-life but I believe there should be exceptions — rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.” Any time a politician starts off with “I am pro-life but,” you know he’s not committed to ending abortion. He may do the bare minimum to get pro-life voters to think he’s pro-life, but he’s not someone who is reliable to end legalized abortion, he’s not dependable to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v Wade, and he’s clearly willing to discriminate and to leave the door open for all abortions through gaping loopholes.
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Then Gov. Bush issued the most telling remark – “That belief and my consistency on this makes me, I think, poised to be in the right place — the sweet spot — for Republican nominee.” OUCH!!! Okay, please keep in mind that I’m biting my tongue as I respond to his “sweet spot” remarks. I looked up the definition of “sweet spot,” just so everyone understands how callous his words were, and the first definition to come up is sexual in nature -- “a spot on the body that responds pleasurably to a caress or touch,” and then there’s the sports reference – “the area from which the cleanest shots are made.” Whether Jeb Bush is climaxing at the thought of denying a child conceived in rape her right to life in order to gain him victory as the GOP nominee, or if it’s that he finds the rape victim’s child to be the perfect whipping boy for taking shots at, his remarks are offensive, dehumanizing and demoralizing.
Lastly, Bush said, “Others may have a different view and I respect it.” This isn’t about respecting mere political views -- this is about respecting not just my “view,” but my life! I deserve to be alive, I was worthy of the protection I received pre-Roe v Wade, and others just like me deserve the same opportunity to be born.
If you call yourself pro-life, if you say you believe that the pre-born are persons and therefore, have a right to life under the 14th Amendment due process clause, then you cannot be willing to violate the second part of the 14th Amendment – the equal protection clause, which says that “No state shall deny a person equal protection of the laws.” To do so is not only hypocritical, it’s unconstitutional. And that’s precisely what Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are proposing – to deny persons equal protection under the law.
Recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham has made hurtful remarks calling children like me “the child of the rapist.” I am sure he has no idea how offensive that is to the majority of rape survivors who not only choose life, but choose to raise their children. After everything she’s been through and had to overcome, he has the audacity to suggest that her child is the rapist’s child. We don’t call President Obama “the polygamist’s child,” so stop trying to demonize us in such a manner. Give us our dignity and call us who we are – a rape victim’s child, a child of God, a person with a right to life.
Right now, the only two GOP presidential candidates who support overturning Roe v Wade and who refuse to discriminate against the child conceived in rape are Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio. I’ve met Sen. Rubio in person, and would love to meet Sen. Cruz some day. But I’m also willing to meet with any other candidates, and I do hope that by putting a face, a voice, and a real-life story to the issue, their hearts and minds would be changed so that they’d no longer support the killing of innocent children. There are over 300 hundred of us through Save The 1 who were conceived in rape, mothers from rape, birthmothers from rape and post-abortive after rape. We are thankful for the gift of life, we deserve our dignity, and we want our voices to be heard.
Rebecca Kiessling is a wife, mother of 5, attorney and international pro-life speaker and blogger. She shares her story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back alley abortions, but legally protected. She’s the founder and President of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, and co-founder of Embryo Defense. Reprinted with permission from Save The 1.
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