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God’s gift of life helped her heal from abortions, poor choices

EDITORS’ NOTE: Sunday, Jan. 16, is being observed throughout the Southern Baptist Convention as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. To learn more about how The Sanctity of Human Life Culture Response Kit can be used in this convention-wide emphasis, visit www.faithandfamily.com, a ministry of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

ATLANTA (BP)–Twelve years ago, as Debbie Haney surveyed the landscape of Israel’s Dead Sea region during a church group tour of biblical sites, she faced the unsightly reality of what her own life had become.

“Everything around the Dead Sea was dead,” she recalled. “That is the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located … an area that was once beautiful, and now it’s barren and ugly.”

As Haney looked over this formerly lush and colorful region, she recalled the Genesis account of how God destroyed the area with fire and burning sulfur obliterating all people, plants and animals alike because of the sexual sins of the unrepentant people.

In her mid-30s, having had several abortions and in the midst of her fourth divorce, Haney came to grips with an adulthood filled with poor choices and sinful rebellion.

“How am I ever going to have children?” she wondered.

Debbie remarried again in 1995 about two years after her trip to Israel. At the time, she held little hope that she would ever be able to have children. With her biological clock seemingly about to wind down, Haney admitted that she had no one to blame but herself.

“I made some bad choices,” she said.

Haney also didn’t believe she deserved another chance. She was consumed with guilt for having the abortions during the course of rocky relationships in high school, college and throughout her career as a computer programmer.

But after going through counseling following her fourth divorce, Haney said she learned to take responsibility for her actions while at the same time realizing that God loved her unconditionally.

“I had learned early on that there were legal ways to avoid taking responsibility for your actions,” Haney said. “I just learned to take the legal way out.”

Still, Haney said, she felt unfulfilled, despite her success in the corporate world. “The only thing I ever did right was work,” she said.

While searching to satisfy that emptiness in her life, Haney said she decided to go to church, a place she hadn’t been in 20 years. There, she discovered what she had been searching for her entire life.

“When I discovered that despite what I had done, God still delights in me, that freed me,” she said. Having since grieved for each of her aborted children, Haney said she began to experience a peace that passes all understanding.

“God didn’t use a blueprint for my life,” Haney said. “He used a whiteboard. Every time I made a bad choice, He had to redraw His perfect plan for my life, re-directing me toward His purpose.”

In 1997, at age 40, Haney discovered part of God’s redemptive purpose for her life when she gave birth to a baby girl, Jordan. About five years later, Haney and her husband, Jeff, experienced the miracle of childbirth again with a son, Dustin.

“Because of my history, even being able to have a child was a miracle,” Haney said. “It had to be God’s grace.”

With the delivery of her second child, Haney said she again experienced God’s redemptive power not only spiritually but this time physically as well.

Haney was admitted to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section. Having had a C-section with her daughter Jordan four years earlier, Haney thought she knew what to expect.

As the nurses prepared her for the procedure, Haney anxiously awaited the opportunity to finally hold her newborn son, fulfilling her dream of the picture-perfect family.

Being pregnant at 45 had given Haney a whole new meaning of the expression “labor of love.” First, there was the onset of gestational diabetes, and then she tested positive for a bacterial infection that required medication before undergoing the C-section. Still, nothing could temper Haney’s enthusiasm about becoming a mother again.

That was until a nurse gave her penicillin intravenously to protect the baby from exposure to the bacterial infection. The nurse told Haney she would feel a slight stinging sensation as the antibiotic entered her arm.

Instead, Haney said, “I just felt like I was going to faint.”

Unbeknownst to her, about 20 hospital staff members began scrambling when Haney’s monitors showed no heartbeat for her or the baby.

“From what my husband told me, they coded me because I had flat-lined,” Haney said. “He wondered if he was going to have to choose between me or our baby.”

Within a matter of seconds, however, Haney’s and her unborn child’s heart resumed beating. It took the doctors and nurses another 20 minutes to stabilize her vital signs before successfully completing the C-section. Doctors later concluded she had an allergic reaction to the penicillin.

Although she does not remember her near-death experience, Haney said she will never take for granted the miracle of childbirth.

“I do believe that there was a part of me that was missing and that these children filled this need for me and put my life on an even keel,” she said.

Haney now homeschools her children and leads women’s Bible studies at CrossPoint Church, a new Southern Baptist church in Dawsonville, Ga. She also counsels women who struggle with the guilt of having an abortion.

“The most important thing for me,” Haney said, “is that our children walk with Jesus and allow Him to be the foundation for what they do and the choices they make.”

Since becoming a mother, Haney said, she has never been happier or more content in her life. She described herself as living proof of the promise in Psalm 37:4: “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

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