As I buckled my four kids in their car seats I was silently praying for the right words to say. It was Caleb, my five-year-old son, who asked the question I knew was coming: “Where are we going for our picnic today, Mom?” We had just left the library and we always have a picnic afterwards at a park or with friends, but today I had a different plan: we were going to eat our lunch alone sitting on the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood clinic nearest our home and hold up a cardboard sign in the hopes of making a difference.
I have discovered the magic of sitting in the car for teaching moments (they are a captive audience!) so I turned in my seat and took the opportunity to tell them not only where we were going and what we would be doing, but why it was so important. I kept my explanation of abortion heartfelt and simple. I heard a sharp intake of breath from my three-year-old daughter Jenna and turned to see a look of utter shock on her face. “So they kill the little babies until they DIE?!?” She almost whispered it, as she hugged her blanket more tightly. I solemnly nodded and replied that it makes Heavenly Father so sad to see this happening, and so we need to do anything we can to stop it. I told them my plan, and showed them the sign I had made that morning. The Spirit filled our car as I watched their expressions change from appalled sadness to loving determination. Natalie piped up from the back seat, “Maybe when they see children eating and smiling and playing together, then they will see that a baby would be worth it!” Her seven-year-old voice quivered with conviction, and I just nodded because I didn’t trust my voice at the moment. There were more questions on the drive, sometimes I didn’t have the answers and I told them so, but other times answers did come that surprised me. Examples from scripture stories and General Conference talks, even from our own experiences, built our testimonies as we drove.
When we arrived, I could tell they felt a bit nervous and unsure of what it would be like. But I felt totally at peace, regardless of the outcome. You see, I meant every word that I said when I wrote that sign. My goals for this experience were twofold: 1) To be a defender of the family (please see Bonnie Oscarson’s General Conference talk “Be Defenders of the Family“) by teaching my children eternal truths concerning current social issues; and 2) To get our experience out on social media to inspire someone do this too and make a difference! I was so fed up with the endless rants and horrific videos and hateful accusations filling up my news feed! The success of my first goal was still burning in my heart as we pulled into the parking lot, and it felt like this was the easy part.
We walked up to the building and I had Natalie take my picture with the sign. I got out our picnic stuff and snapped a picture of the kids. I previewed it and noticed that Caleb was making a distressed looking face and so asked to retake it, but again it was the same result. I showed him the picture and asked why he wasn’t smiling, and his response was, “Mom, we shouldn’t smile at the place where they kill babies.”
The actual time at the clinic was nothing extraordinary. We saw several women and their interactions with us varied from ignoring us, to just a faint smile in passing. We ate our lunch. We tried to keep Seth’s almost two-year-old hands from banging on the windows. We watched and waited. At one point Caleb wanted to spice things up so he took the sign and held it up to the window facing into the waiting room and smiled big as day, only to run back to us a few moments later laughing that the receptionist had seen him. I guess up to that point they hadn’t realized why we were there because a couple minutes later a man came out and asked us to leave. I responded by asking if the sidewalk was public property and he retorted that it was part of the building’s property and if we wanted to stay we would have to stand in the street. It was raining, and there was no way my four “littles” would stand safely next to me on the street, so I wished him a nice day and we packed up and got in the car to go. Just as I turned the key Natalie exclaimed, “Oh no! Look!” There was a pregnant woman coming down the sidewalk. We all held our breath as she approached and then passed the door of Planned Parenthood. The sigh of relief was audible. I couldn’t help but smile. My children understood the value of unborn life!
As soon as we got home, I put Seth down for his nap, got the kids going on their library books, and then hopped on Facebook to make my post. I wondered how I could best accomplish my second goal. Last year, before all the hype, when I found out about all the abortions done by Planned Parenthood in the United States, I was heartbroken and wrote a post about it with an attachment to the article I had read. Maybe 40 people had liked it. I knew having pictures would help, but I also knew it had to get bigger than my timeline outreach to actually make a difference. So after posting to my wall, I also posted it to the Facebook group I am a member of so that thousands of like-minded people would see it. Even then I had no idea the impact it would have, I could only hope.
The way in which an event is recorded can become more important than the event itself. People are blowing this up into something it wasn’t. We didn’t actually stop anyone from getting an abortion and we didn’t adopt a saved baby. What did happen is that a normal mom, trying to follow the prophet, stood up in defense of the family. When we want to make a difference our actions don’t need to be grandiose, but they do need to be prompted. If I can ponder and pray and receive an answer for how to take action, then so can you! Each of us can lift where we stand. Please join me!
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Allison grew up in California as the second oldest of eight children with a farmer father and librarian mother. She attended BYU where she studied Theatre and Media Arts Education and History Teaching, and also met and married the love of her life. Her husband’s job has taken them all over the country and they are happy to have settled in Utah for the time being with their four children. As a homeschooling homemaker, she doesn’t have spare time, but enjoys making time for emergency preparedness, family history, and activities in the great outdoors.