The wail heard through the wall.

My coworkers and I sat in our offices as the cries of an expecting mother pierced through the building. We didn’t need to be in the counseling room to understand her sobs: this pregnancy wasn’t planned, nor was it wanted. We all felt the weight of what those two pink lines on the pregnancy test meant as her wails intensified. A beloved staff member sat with this client in her shock and pain, remaining with her through her tears and her panic. Standing near the adjoining wall to the counseling room, the remainder of the staff gathered together to do the only thing we knew to do: we prayed.

I remember when I began volunteering at Choices Clinic back in 2016. I had an idea of what the work at a pregnancy clinic entailed. It was a lovely thought, clear cut and awfully naïve. I knew about the group classes, the Blessing Center and the baby bottle campaigns. I realized Choices existed to help women with unplanned pregnancies, explaining all of their choices and showing them the love and hope of Jesus.

Choices Clinic: Counseling Room

Choices Clinic: Counseling Room

 

Choices Clinic: Waiting Room

Choices Clinic: Waiting Room

But what does that look like practically from day to day in the clinic?

That day, as we listened to the wails heard through the wall, it looked like a staff member sitting with a woman in her pain. At that moment, no words would suffice. Being the hands and feet of Jesus meant meeting a woman where she was in her distress, and staying in that place with her for a time. Not rushing her through the emotions, nor leaving her there, either. It meant recognizing she was a human with a soul who needed to be met right where she was in that moment.

When the Crisis Pregnancy Center rebranded as Choices Clinic of Laurel, we wanted to be the first choice when facing an unplanned pregnancy. We also didn’t want the negative connotation of associating the word “crisis” with pregnancy. Furthermore, we don’t make the choice for you here at Choices. No, we’re not here to make the decision for the women who walk through our doors. We are here to empower women as they learn about all of their options, all while sharing Biblical truths and love with them. You’re not just a statistic at Choices Clinic. We agree with the sentiments of Bob Goff in his book Everybody, Always when he states: “People don’t grow where they are informed; they grow where they’re loved and accepted.” We take the time to meet with each client, listening to her story, discovering what it is that brought her through our doors. We then present her options with this pregnancy, explaining each option in detail. No, we don’t perform or refer for abortions, but we do provide abortion education, as many women aren’t familiar with what a chemical abortion or a surgical abortion procedure entails. We also talk to women about their choice to parent, as well as present them with the choice of adoption. Yes, we here at Choices Clinic identify as pro-life, but we also know one cannot “force” an opinion on anyone expecting them to simply understand your perspective. We can obediently speak truth into the lives of these women, investing in the relationship while building rapport and trust. But ultimately, the “results” aren’t up to us. We’re called to obedience, investing in these relationships no matter what decision is made, and the rest is up to God. We can rest in the truth that, through our weakness, Christ is made strong.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Through many hours of peer counseling, hard conversations, and ceaseless prayer, the cries rooted in fear by this overwhelmed woman were replaced with the cries of new life by her baby girl. Tears turned from mourning to rejoicing. A story turned from remorse to redemption; this is God’s goodness. We’re honored to witness God’s forgiveness, grace, and faithfulness in whatever form that may look like here at Choices; and in this case, from cries of wailing to cries of wonder.

 

Written by Mackenzie Hurt, Outreach Coordinator

On your mark, get set…

It’s that time again! Join us this Saturday (March 23rd, 2019) at Gardiner Park as we kick off our 3rd annual 5K/2 mi. walk/Fun Day! Haven’t registered yet? No problem! Click here to register! You can create your own fundraising page – either as an individual or a team. And don’t forget – we’ll have jumps, crafts, and plenty of activities for the kiddos after the race. $10 armbands will be available for purchase for unlimited kid’s activities. It’ll be a fun day for the whole family! Grab your running shoes, and we’ll see you Saturday morning!

A Letter From The Director

Dear Choices friends,

 

God has blessed this ministry EXCEEDINGLY AND ABUNDANTLY in 2018. We are seeing more clients than EVER before as we expand our reach to surrounding counties and school campuses. As a result, we are seeing more babies saved from abortion, more mothers and fathers learning about Christ’s love, more women getting earlier prenatal care, more students making abstinence decisions, and SO MUCH MORE!

Thank you for your continued prayers, donations, volunteer work, and all you do to share the work of the Choices ministry to our community. You are our cheerleaders! We were so blessed at our banquet this year with $32,000 in gifts that night and another $30,000 in pledges over the next 2 years. We would again like to thank our banquet sponsors: Burson, Entrekin, Orr, Mitchell, & Lacey; Creative Computer; Community Bank; ENT Surgical Clinic; Hardie and Nan Perritt; Rent-All of Laurel; SCRMC; Trustmark; and several anonymous donors. Because of their generous gifts which covered the costs of banquet, 100% of the funds raised that night will go directly to serving our clients and community. While we are incredibly thankful for all of the support we received at banquet, we are still short of our $40,000 goal. If you were unable to attend but would still like to donate, please visit friendsofccl.ms and click the “Donate Now” button. If 320 people give a one-time donation of $25, we will reach our banquet goal!

If you have any questions about who we are as a ministry at Choices, how to give or how to get involved, please call us anytime at 601-428-4357. We would love to equip you with resources to be able to share with your church, co-workers, and community about what Choices Clinic is doing in Jones County and beyond!

 

Serving Him Together,

Brittany Sherman, RN

Executive Director

Rockin’, Runnin’, & Rollin’! Literally! : 5K/2 mi. Walk Recap!

Friends – we are overwhelmed with the support we received during our event on Saturday, March 24th. We had a plethora of folks come out for the run and walk, and dozens of families hung out after the race to enjoy the jumps, crafts, games, and food! We raised over $8,000 and had over 60 participants for the race. We’re anticipating the prospect of what this event could look like in the future as momentum builds and it becomes more established – and we’re excited!

A few of our 5k participants after the race!

Thankful for our volunteers who came out to monitor the jumps, play games, help with crafts, and serve food!

The Funk Pirates team!

 

Want to Learn More About Choices And Your Possible Role In This Ministry? If So, Read This!

 

Interested in learning more about what we do here at Choices? There are TONS of ways to get involved, and volunteering your time is one of them! There’s a plethora of different needs to be filled here at the clinic, and we can’t accomplish everything on our own. Whether it be helping us advertise our events and raise awareness in the community, to being a client advocate, there’s a place for everyone. Want to hear more? Screenshot this , set a reminder on your phone, share this post, invite a friend, whatever you need to remind you to join us at Choices Clinic THIS Thursday, February 1st @ 5:30pm-7pm! Our Client Services Coordinator, Jonna, will tell you all about us and how we can get you plugged in!

#GiveLife: Join Choices Clinic and Give the Ultimate Gift on November 28th by Katie Gustafson

Giving Tuesday

We all know about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of Giving Tuesday?  #GivingTuesday is a global movement that takes place on the Tuesday immediately following Thanksgiving. But instead of focusing on shopping, #GivingTuesday is all about on giving back. All over the world, charities and businesses who do good in their local communities are becoming partners with #GivingTuesday, inviting others to support their cause by donating time, money, goods or acts of kindness. In the holiday season of giving, #GivingTuesday puts the focus on giving back to causes that are making a difference. To see this movement in action, simply search the hashtag, “#GivingTuesday,” on any social media platform.  This year, Choices Clinic of Laurel, MS, has partnered with the #GivingTuesday movement and invites you to join them in their local mission to bring better lives to the women, children and families to south Mississippi.

Give Life

Life is a mosaic of our choices. Sure, our families, genes, and circumstances outside of our control all play a major role in determining the people we become. However, even those events can have completely different outcomes based on our responses. This is a direct result of our ability to choose. There is an immense freedom in the human right of choice. Universally, choice makes us human. Individually, our particular choices make us who are. But what about those times when our choices look impossible?  Even worse, what about when it seems like we have no choices, at all?

Illness, poverty, loss of a loved one, responsibilities forced upon us that seem insurmountable: these are the sorts of events which can strip us of the feeling of choice. These situations are often already the lowest of low points. However, they can be made even worse by the fact that feeling choice-less means also feeling helpless and, in turn, hopeless.

A famous psychological study in classical conditioning shows what can happen in this situation. In the study, a dog experienced negative feedback (a mild shock) immediately after a bell was rung. It didn’t matter what the dog did, the result was the same each time. After a very short while, the shock was removed, but the dog continued to respond as if he had been shocked whenever he heard the bell ring. Later, the accompanying shock was brought back into the experiment, but this time the dog was given the option to remove himself from the situation.  Astounding the researchers, the dog actually chose to lie down and accept the pain instead of trying to get away from it. Since the dog in this study had initially been taught that nothing he could do would alter his circumstances, he gave up. When there actually was a way out, he could not find it because he had already learned to accept that he had no power. This concept is well-known today as Seligman’s Learned Helplessness.

The same concept applies to people.

It can be counter-intuitive for us to look for a way out of a situation that seems hopeless, especially when we have been repeatedly hit by hard circumstances. We often can’t see our choices, even if we do have them. In these situations, we need someone from the outside to come in and offer support, learning, and empowerment.

This is what Choices Clinic offers to its clients. Working with overwhelmed women who are facing the difficult situation of an unexpected pregnancy, the staff at Choices Clinic show their clients that they are not alone, and that they do have choices in how they will respond.

The specific choices that women face in the midst of an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy are often oversimplified or misunderstood.  This may result in the huge amount of external pressure that women feel when facing this situation. They may be pressured to “just take care of it” (abortion) or to “suck it up and grow up” (unprepared, often single, parenthood).  One way or another, these women are often treated as if their pregnancy is an inconvenience to society, one that they must deal with alone.  Since both abortion and parenthood may be frightening unknowns to these women, many of them find themselves stuck in the helpless/hopeless spiral, in which they may respond to the shock of their circumstances by lying down and succumbing to external pressures.

Fortunately for the community of Laurel, Choices Clinic is not the kind of establishment that views unplanned pregnancy as an inconvenience. Instead, this organization functions as a haven from judgement and external pressure: a place to pause, learn, and grow. The compassionate staff at Choices approach their work as an opportunity to serve women, couples, and families by offering education as well as emotional and practical support. They offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and STI/STD testing, as well as life-skill/parenthood classes and male mentoring for prospective fathers. The staff at Choices wants their clients to feel comfortable as they have their questions answered about the reality of their choices, so that these women can make an informed decision. Choices Clinic is a resource that gives women the power that they may have felt like they didn’t have before—the power to take control of the situation.

If you live in Laurel and are familiar with Choices Clinic, you may already know that this organization has a pro-life orientation. The truth is that Choices is “pro-life” in many more ways than one.  You won’t find judgement behind the doors at Choices, but what you will find is practical and emotional support, education, and empowerment. This is an organization that wants to build healthy lives, not only for unborn children, but also for expectant mothers, for soon-to-be-fathers, and for the family unit as a whole. Through this endeavor, and through helping women find the choices they didn’t think they had, Choices Clinic creates a powerful ripple effect that helps give life to our community as a whole.

How to Participate

As a non-profit, Choices Clinic could not do the work that it does without support from the local community. It requires donations of time, money and labor for Choices to keep empowering and serving lives in and around Laurel. If you would like to partner with Choices Clinic and be a participant in #GivingTuesday this year, please go to the fundraising page on www.friendsofccl.ms and click the “Support Us For #GivingTuesday” button to make a financial contribution before or on November 28th.  If you are a business owner, another way to give on #GivingTuesday is to set aside a partial amount of your proceeds on Tuesday, November 28th and donate them afterwards! If you partner with Choices Clinic this way, be sure to let others know about Giving Tuesday, about the work that is done at Choices, and why you believe in it.  You can promote the participation of your business via social media and include #GiveLife, which is the specific hashtag that Choices Clinic is using in preparation for #GivingTuesday!

Thank you to all of you who have already chosen to partner with #GivingTuesday and Choices Clinic this holiday season. Through your support, this organization can continue to be the place that it is: a place that provides choices in the midst of helplessness and growth in the midst of hardship.  In their services towards women, children and men, Choices Clinic is helping local families find the strength to blossom throughout our community.  What better way to #GiveLife this holiday season than by giving the gift of choices?

 

List of businesses participating in #GivingTuesday:

  • Adam Trest (324 N Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Bumpers (1717 W 10th St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Guild and Gentry (321 N Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Lee’s Coffee + Tea (409 W Oak St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Lazy Oak (located in Southern Antiques: 17 Central Ave, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Baby Booth (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Lavori (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Cottage Books (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Kay Staple’s Booth (located in Southern Antiques)
  • Katie Gustafson’s Zumba Class (located at Curves in Ellisville)
  • Curves of Ellisville (103 E Jessamine St, Ellisville, MS 39437)
  • LoblolliPops (located at Eliza Nicole Boutique and Peddlers Junktion Location)
  • The Craft Room (located in Sawmill Square Mall)
  • PDIs (330 S Magnolia St, Laurel, MS 39440)
  • Deli Diner (801 US-11, Ellisville, MS 39437)
  • Smokehouse BBQ (737 Sawmill Rd, Laurel, MS 39440)

Let’s Bring Our “A-Game”

Dear Choices Clinic of Laurel faithful supporters, volunteers, and prayer warriors:

I want to inform you of a nationwide attack on truth-giving, life-affirming pregnancy clinics like ours called “Expose Fake Clinics”. This campaign is specifically running through the end of this week, but we know this is not the first, nor will be the last, attack by pro-aborts. They have given specific instructions to participants to “grab a bottle of wine and get your feminist book club together to organize a fun CALL-A-THON”. They are encouraging pro-choice activists to call PMC’s as plants, protest at their doors, and if they are not able to protest, target us online attempting to decrease our ratings on Facebook, Google, and other search engines. So, how do we combat this attack? Internally, we are reviewing our policies and training, ensuring we are protecting ourselves and bringing our “A-game”. Externally, we are asking you, our supporters and anyone who stands for LIFE, to “like” our Choices Clinic of Laurel and our Friends of CCL Facebook pages. Also, help us keep our Choices Clinic of Laurel business listings (Facebook, Google, etc.) at a 5-star rating by giving us positive comments and clicking 5-stars. Examples could include, “friendly staff”, “beautiful facility”, “very caring”, etc.

As I was researching their campaign earlier this week, I found a map on exposefakeclinics.com pinning the “CPCs” they know about with address and phone information for the convenience of their cohorts. I texted our staff and said, “The bad news is that they pinned us. The good news is they only pinned 9 out of over 40 PRC/PMCs in the STATE! On the home page of the site, their anger is evident by sentences such as, “there are close to 4,000 fake clinics all over the country vs. only 780 real abortion providers”. PRAISE GOD! The map of all the Christ-centered PRCs who are offering men and women HOPE and healing is SO encouraging, even when it appears on a pro-abortion site! This is a great reminder that God is victorious ALWAYS! Even when we get discouraged about government decisions, intimidated by big pro-abortion money, and fearful of attacks, GOD is sovereign and HE alone is growing pro-life ministries all over, even here in Laurel. We ARE making a difference. YOU are making a difference here in the Pine Belt.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14

Be encouraged. Keep praying. Keep serving. Keep supporting. Keep fighting for these unborn lives that are being taken by the evil of abortion every day. Together, we can make Choices Clinic of Laurel the FIRST choice in our community and ELIMINATE abortion once and for all.

Brittany Sherman, RN

Executive Director

Choices Clinic of Laurel

Baby Bottle Are Back!

April showers bring May flowers… do you know what else May brings? Baby Bottles!

  • We are offering delivery if you or your churches contact person is unable to pick up baby bottles/bulletin inserts.
  • All bottles and bulletin inserts will be available for pick-up on Monday, May 1st.
  • Set out bottles on Mother’s Day, May 14th.
  • Church contact person to return bottles with change by Father’s day, June 18th.