Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter.
So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love.
Check out the podcast at RefocusWithJimDaly.com or wherever you get your podcasts. When someone's facing an unplanned pregnancy, we have to remember, like, God is going to just strengthen your family. This little one is part of your family.
And so, you know, we just have to walk it out. And, you know, with our church family that responded so well, I think we need to be that church that will meet these young women and young men and disciple them and get into their lives and grow them, but also be a church where if there's abortion, because we know one in four in the church, that also they know that there's healing. Serena Dykeson is with us today on Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller, and this program will contain some elements that aren't suitable for younger audiences.
So please, if you've got children nearby, direct them elsewhere, but lean in. This is a terrific broadcast we have for you today. John, I'm so pleased to have Serena back with us. Last time we discussed her story of abuse and trauma at the hand of her uncle, and then as a result of that, the suffering she experienced from an abortion.
I can't imagine all that happening at 13. And, you know, God doesn't leave us in anguish if we lean into Him. And she went on to share the grace that she discovered, the kind that only God can give us, and that's what we concentrated on last time. And if you missed the broadcast, go to the website or get it on your smartphone.
You can listen to every program that way. But it really was good, and I so appreciated her vulnerability. Today we're going to talk about the healing process, where God did show up and how He took care of both her and her husband Bruce, and Bruce is joining us today as well.
Yeah, we're glad to have him here in the studio. Serena is the author of the book, She Found His Grace, a True Story of Hope, Love, and Forgiveness After Abortion. And, of course, we have copies of that book here at the ministry. You can learn more about our guests and about Serena's ministry by the same name as the title of her book.
We'll link over to all of that in the show notes, or give us a call. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. And Bruce owns and operates a contracting company, and Bruce and Serena live in Indiana. They have four children, two adults here on earth and two in heaven, as you say.
And you also have grandchildren, which is great. One more on the way, I understand. And Serena, as I mentioned, has a great ministry, two post-abortive women.
We'll hear more about that today. Serena, welcome back. Thank you. Bruce, it's great to have you in here.
Thank you. Let me ask you this question, because so often today, I mean, we delay becoming an adult until whenever, 30? You know, it's just something that the culture now says, I'm sure when you share with people, even in Christian circles, yeah, we were, you know, 18, 17, when we got married, people go, you were kids.
But in reality, you've got the stuff to make it work. Obviously, you're still married. How many years have you been married? Twenty-nine.
Twenty-nine years. So you can't say that it didn't work. It's not to say that it wasn't easy, right?
I mean, I'm sure it had difficulty, but you did it. And it's just kind of refreshing, I guess, to say, okay, this happened, the right thing to do was to get married, and you did it. That's amazing. Congratulations. Thank you.
Thank you. God forgets the glory. Standing on this side of the story, we could see his fingerprints all over our story. And that's been the unique part of writing the book, Serena writing the book. We could sit back and not have, I didn't have to be 80 sitting in my rocking chair someday and telling my, at that point, probably great-grandchildren, I remember this day, I can sing God's praises now at this day in my life.
That's so good and refreshing, I guess. And we don't have to look down on those kinds of situations. Do the right thing. Be a family that comes around that young couple.
Help them to establish themselves. To me, it's just good. Yet, it's not easy. And Serena, I want to turn to you, a question I wanted to ask yesterday but ran out of time. After you got married, you went through a period of funk, trauma, and I can imagine it felt like a jungle and you didn't have a machete to hack your way out. It was just vines growing all over you.
I don't know. But what was going on? How far along were you and Bruce in your marriage?
And what did that fog look like? Yeah, so like I shared yesterday, we got married young and by the age of 23, we bought our first house and we thought, we're making it. We're beating the odds. That's what it looked like to us, right? It was successful. But I ended up having a miscarriage and what I didn't know at the time is it was a double grief. And that's when we began to experience marriage issues.
I very much started to push Bruce out because he felt very unsafe. Let me ask you, in that context, it sounds like you were kind of knowledgeable of this emotion. I'm sure it wasn't like that. I mean, you had this miscarriage, it triggered things in you. And you were unconsciously doing these things, I would assume. Right. I did not know at that time. I did not understand it at all. It's going through a healing process that I can look back and identify that was what was going on.
I had no idea. And so we had this miscarriage and I was just so rocked by that. I was so grieved and I was looking for Bruce to give me a comfort that he could not do. I elevated him higher than what I should have. In my brokenness, the day that we were in the parking lot of Planned Parenthood, Bruce became my hero.
He became my number one. When he said, we'll figure it out. We'll figure it out. Right. But really, God should have been in that place. And I did not know, you know, I didn't realize how much I really elevated Bruce. And so when I had the miscarriage, I was looking for Bruce to heal this part of me that was broken.
But it wasn't his place to do that. And so I made him a villain. And I really put my anger towards him a lot of the time. And then, you know, I was having physical issues as well. Because of the abortion, my ovary ruptured and I nearly died. I had to have a complete hysterectomy by the time I was 29. And then I started to struggle with I'm not worthy to be a mother or a wife. And you have two children. I have two children. And it really affected how I parented my children because I just did not think that I deserve them.
How long of a period of time was this rebellion as you described it in the book? Yeah, so that started in my 20s. And then by the time I was in my 30s, my kids hit middle school. And I just kind of went off the rails a little bit. I moved out of our house and I was just going to divorce Bruce. I thought, you know what, he deserves better.
My kids deserve better. And that's really when I started drinking a lot. I started abusing prescription medication, just to medicate, just to medicate.
Yeah, to be numb. I surrounded myself with people who thought that they were being a good friend to me. And looking back, those people didn't hold my feet to the fire. They just kind of said, well, you deserve to be angry. You deserve, you know, you've been through a lot.
And so they really didn't encourage me in my walk at all. And I found myself just out partying and drinking every weekend. And living separately. Let me get Bruce in here. Bruce, you saw and felt Serena's separation emotionally in probably every way. What were you trying to figure out? I can only imagine you're kind of lost.
You don't know what's going on here specifically. How did you try to gain some traction in the relationship to help her? Yeah, prior to her moving out, I tried to gain traction by trying to do things in my way and help and try to win her back, so to speak, or just be who she wanted me to be.
And every time when I thought I was making success, it would seem like the goalpost was moved another 30 or 40 yards away. That's when you know it's not about you. I guess, how did you keep your heart open to Serena and not just fold up the tent and move on? Yeah, I think it was just deep inside of me.
I knew that divorce was not what I wanted to do. The scripture verse that what God has brought together, let no man break apart. And I can't say that I clung onto it, but that's in my core. It's in my DNA. And that just was there.
And my personality is something that when I see what I want to do, I put my mind to it to try to do. A lot of times it was the wrong way to do it, but that's what kept me going in that direction of trying to do what I could to save our marriage. Yeah, it feels, I haven't been in that spot, so I can only imagine, but it must feel like it's so out of control.
Like you can't do A, B, C and get D. And I think human beings, we just struggle with that because control is a feature of how we stay in peace because we can control our environment to the degree we want it. And when you're out of control, it's probably where God wants to put us for a season so we can lean into him, right? Serena, how, I mean, Bruce is trying really hard.
All the guys in the audience are going, come on Serena, he's doing the best he could do. He was. But you weren't in a healthy place. I was so not in a healthy place and he was doing everything he could. And it felt like every time he tried, because he would go up and beyond. I remember I was living someplace else and he knew that I hated the snow and he got up before work and he came and shoveled and cleaned my car.
And that's so great, right? But I was so angry at him. I was like, why doesn't he just leave me alone? But he wouldn't leave me alone.
And so he just kept pursuing and I was just, you know, for me, I was just like, you know, I think, you know, if I just pushed him away enough, he would leave me alone. You know, that's what. And under this idea that you're not worthy of him. Right. I mean, everybody has to remember that context. Right.
So you're pushing him away for his benefit. I'm not good enough for you. I mean, I know it's so scrambled. So scrambled.
Right. And it's because of being in a healthy, unhealthy place. I have so unhealthy emotionally. I had so much trauma. I had so much hurt and so much pain. Wasn't walking with the Lord. I didn't know the Lord like I know the Lord now.
I thought, you know, I knew, but I did not know. And and just through that process, you know, just kept running in this ridiculous cycle that was just hurting me. And, you know, it was one night of just a heavy night of drinking. And I say this was probably the best thing that happened to me was I had burned my bridges. You know, people were sick and tired of me texting at three o'clock in the morning.
It wasn't funny anymore. And I remember just saying, to be honest, I knew that I drank too much. And I thought, if I get on the road, I could go to jail. And I didn't want to go to jail.
I wasn't thinking of anybody but myself. I was so selfish. And people, one by one, they wouldn't help me.
They wouldn't rescue me. And I just remember getting in my car and I just began to weep. And I was just like, God, I have no one but you right now.
And what I love about God is he saw me at my worst. I was high. I was drunk. I was a mess. I was not living for him.
And he saw me and he lavished me in a love that I had never felt in my life. And I knew that it was time to go home both physically and spiritually. And by God's grace, I made it home. And I got home and God was already working in Bruce's heart. I did not deserve Bruce's grace.
I did not deserve for him to allow me to come back home. But God was working on his heart. And Bruce met me at the door and he welcomed me in.
Wow, what a picture. It was beautiful. Walk us through your decision to honor the children you lost both through the abortion and in miscarriage. What did that do emotionally for you?
And Bruce, I'd like to hear your input on that as well. But why did you do that and what benefit was it? Yeah, so as I began to just share my story, someone had approached me and asked me if I had ever been through healing for my past abortion. And to be honest, I did not even know that was a thing.
I didn't know that existed. And to be honest, at that point, I thought I was in a really good place. I had done a ton of healing. And I rolled this lady because I thought, I'm good, I'm good. And I heard the Holy Spirit say, how do you expect to help others if you're not willing to go there yourself?
I was like, well, there's that. And so I went, for me, I went to a retreat and God met me through his word in a powerful way of, for one, I was able to grieve the loss of my two children and actually give them honor and dignity because we didn't do that. We kind of just kind of we kept going.
We kept plowing through. And, you know, God just met me with two names, Eliana Grace and Malachi John. Wow. And it was, I remember being at this retreat and the Lord gave me a picture of a girl with dark hair. And beside her was a young man and he had blonde hair. And it was like a picture of my children. And it was so beautiful. It was a gift that I knew the Lord was giving me. And I finished up that weekend and I just remember getting in the car sharing with Bruce about Eliana Grace and Malachi John and him weeping, just weeping because he had not ever been able to grieve those children, you know, our son.
That was the first time he had grieved Malachi John. Bruce, let me ask you, I'm thinking, you know, so much of this content is so good. Playing it for my 20 something boys, you know, sitting here and saying, OK, let's listen to this together. And I hadn't thought about this. But in that context, Bruce, your perspective, if you were sitting with my sons, they were maybe faced with something like that.
They're not. But just to take them through that. So I'm thinking of the dad right now who can do that because of your experience.
What would you say to them, maybe to the dad and to the young men listening? Yeah, I would say first and foremost, take a deep breath. Step back from the emotions that are going on. There's a lot of emotions when that unplanned pregnancy, especially for a 20 year old or younger, comes out and then go to Jesus.
Take it to our Lord and Savior and ask for wisdom and how to navigate through this situation and be patient. The journey is not going to be easy. It's going to be hard and long and sometimes you'll want to quit. But now for me, standing on the other side of the journey, I'm not fully complete, not until the day I get to heaven, obviously.
But now at this point in my life, I can see God's glory in this situation as we've come to this point in our life today. So, yeah, just that deep breath and then surround yourself with men, because I'm talking to men here. They're going to pray for you and they're going to check up on you. Don't put yourself, the 20 year olds are the ones that find themselves in the situation.
Don't put yourself on an island because it's no place to be. Get that camaraderie, get that brother ship that you need around you to pray for you. That you can send a text at any time and say, hey, look, I'm really struggling.
This is really tougher than I ever thought. Yeah, you know, so often we get that phone call here, John, at Focus, and we want you to call us. Counselors are there ready, but it'll be that moment where a dad or mom will call and begin to express through tears. You know, what's happened with their 16 year old or their 26 year old, that they're pregnant. And then they often will talk about the mistake they made in that initial reaction. You know, that their anger or whatever came out like, how could you do this to us? And man, you need to be careful because that moment is going to define your relationship to a large degree for the rest of your life. That child will remember what you did and said right there.
Exactly, exactly. You know, I'm so thankful that we had people that took that deep breath and chose to walk alongside of us instead of shaming us and condemning us. They held our feet to the fire, but, but they loved us. And, you know, with what we do with abortion recovery, we will have those young girls that will send us messages and say, you know what, I'm facing an unplanned pregnancy. And I have my parents that are on the board at church or they're a part of leadership and they're so afraid of what people are going to say in the church. And, you know, we had talked to those girls and we're like, you know what, you know, now's the time for you to hold your parents feet to the fire and do what the Lord has asked. You know, we want to honor God in this. And I know sometimes people are like to honor your father and mother, but we're to honor the Lord in this. And the Lord loves that baby.
And sometimes we need someone to speak into this young girl or young man to say, hey, folks, you know, let's take a deep breath. It's going to be OK because God wastes nothing. He wastes nothing. It's for his, his glory. You know, that Romans 828 works all things.
He works all things good. Yeah, it's hard to believe when you love it. Right. Let me ask you to that point. I think so often the parents that are in the picture, you know, and maybe it's a single mom, a single parent dad.
Who knows? But typically the parents in this picture, they take it as a reflection of their lack of parenting, their lack of skill, their lack of whatever. That if their child ends up being the one coming home saying, hey, I'm pregnant. It is the battle right there to not see it as failure, but to now embrace it. So God can use all things right. Like in your lives. Right. But yeah. So how do you express that? And the thing about it is your kids are going to make they're going to make choices. Right. And that's on them. That's the choices that they've made. And so now we walk alongside of them and help them make better choices. And the baby, the baby is going to bless your life.
Like it's just going to. That's a blessing. And we need to celebrate life no matter how that baby was conceived. And what I'll tell you, you know, for my parents and what we didn't talk about is my parents, you know, who thought that they were doing the right thing and taking me for abortion. What ended up happening was that affected their lives. You know, my mom had a mental breakdown and had to check in for two weeks. My dad ended up eventually leaving our family. And, you know, my mom, my mom could hear what happened at that clinic and it affected the rest of her life. And I think that's what people need to hear that, you know, it never took away the trauma of my sexual abuse.
It never did. And and so, you know, my parents, that was a pain point for them. And we've hit that idea of how the parents should react. But your story, as you said, involved a really loving church that didn't bend on principle, but loved you.
Bruce, I just want to come back to that for a minute. And both of you can speak to this, but the importance of how the church needs to react to that situation and how the family should not receive condemnation, but care. Right. And what a great right approach that is. But sometimes that doesn't happen. Yeah, unfortunately, you're right. Sometimes it doesn't happen.
But by God's grace, it happened for us. And that church family became our extended family. And we have elder members of that family that to this day, when we talk about our kids, it's almost like their grandkids are part of it. Yes.
Yeah. And the joy that they beam with. And, you know, earlier talking about the parents that find themselves in this situation of, oh, that my child did this, this unplanned pregnancy. And I've never asked my parents what they thought.
I think I will. But I know to this day, they are so happy with our kids. And then now their kids that they can see generations.
And then also for my grandfather, he now has his second great grandchild that he has got to meet. It's just, yeah. That's what it's about. Yeah. That's what you see on tombstones, right?
Yeah. She was a beloved mother. He was a great father.
It's not your vocation. Right. And, you know, I look at our kids and the relationship they have with their grandparents is beautiful. It's so beautiful. And, you know, that's just, you know, just God's hand in it all. And I think when someone's facing an unplanned pregnancy, we have to remember, like, God is going to just strengthen your family.
This little one is part of your family. And so, you know, we just have to walk it out. And, you know, with our church family that responded so well, I think we need to be that church that will meet these young women and young men and disciple them and get into their lives and grow them. But also be a church where if there's abortion, because we know one in four in the church, that also they know that there's healing and there's freedom in Christ. Right.
Don't carry that alone. You know, the analogy that's so clear here is Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. And, you know, he was speaking to the Pharisees that had gathered and said, oh, OK, he who is without sin, you cast the first stone.
And it's interesting that the word says they dropped the rocks they had and left the eldest to the youngest is kind of the paraphrase of that. And it's the same thing here. You know, if a young person is in your church and they say, I'm pregnant. Yeah. OK, if you want to cast judgment and dispersions at them, go ahead. But think about it. And they should drop those stones and embrace them. I would hope they would drop those stones. And like you said, embrace them, but then lift them up in prayer so much as they walk through that journey.
Yeah. Well, Serena and Bruce, this is an incredible redemption story. I love the book She Found His Grace, a true story of hope, love and forgiveness after abortion that captures it all. And thank you. I mean, you could just stay quietly at home doing your thing, but you have started the ministry and you're sharing this and you're helping particularly young women.
But I'm sure some young men to to figure out what God has in all of this. So thank you for being with us. Thank you.
Thank you. And let me say, as I often say, support the ministry here at Focus. Do it with us. Be part of the team and we'll send you a copy of this book as our way of saying thank you. And let's save babies together.
It's amazing we say this all the time, John. Sixty dollars saves a baby's life through option ultrasound. Why not?
It's a great program and we have those metrics down. So think about that. Join us that way. Send sixty dollars and save a baby's life.
Let's go there. Donate as you can. And when you do request the book, She Found His Grace by Serena Dykeson. We'd also like to mention that we have caring Christian counselors who are prepared to listen to you, to talk with you, pray and direct you to further resources, whether you're facing an unplanned pregnancy or maybe you have questions about your faith. Again, our number is 800, the letter A in the word family. And we'll have further details about resources and help on our website.
The link is in the show notes. We hope you have a great weekend and that you can join us on Monday. We'll hear from Bob and Linda Laudick as they give insight about how you can be at peace with your money. And that's how we define true financial freedom.
Like it's not just about the amount of dollars in your account. It's not about, you know, whatever, living the forward workweek or being financially independent, but it's about having that freedom to be content in Christ, regardless of what the bank account says. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. If the fights with your spouse have become unbearable, if you feel like you can't take it anymore, there's still hope. Hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together. Call us at 1-866-875-2915. We'll talk with you, pray with you and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
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