My story begins with a boy.
When I was 15, I met “Oliver.”
Both of us were from the same area. I was born, raised, and dedicated in the Nazarene church. Oliver was not from a Christian home, although he had a wonderful family and extended family. This relationship was not what my parents had in mind for me. My father tried many times to keep me from spending time with Oliver, which only made the relationship more enticing.
We dated pretty exclusively throughout high school. I did start inviting him and bringing him to youth group and church. There, he connected with the youth pastor and accepted Christ.
I felt this was the young man God had intended for me and I pictured a life with him early on.
Our relationship was not physical for quite a while.
When we did start becoming sexually active, I was too embarrassed to admit it.
As far as using protection, it would be like admitting I was having sex.
It did not take long before I became pregnant in the fall of 1992, the beginning of my senior year and Oliver’s junior year.
After finding out I was pregnant, we decided to tell our parents together. It was actually Oliver that broke the news to my parents. When he told my dad I was pregnant, the first thing my dad said was, “This is exactly why I tried to keep you and Oliver apart.” The next thing he said was,
“You need to get an abortion.” I was stunned. This was not what I was raised to believe; and I had not thought that my parents even believed in abortion.
I knew that abortion was not an option for me.
Following this short conversation, Oliver and I headed over to tell his parents. His parents’ response was: “Of all people, we hoped this wouldn’t happen to you–especially since you are from a Christian family.”
I felt the weight of disappointing everyone.
I was able to graduate early from high school and Oliver stayed and finished high school as well. His life really did not change much in those first months. I, on the other hand, was asked to leave my parents’ home shortly after graduating in December. I moved in with another family, who invited me to live in their home. This family’s daughter had experienced a similar situation the year before. They had an apartment in their basement which I made into my own little space.
I started working part-time at a fast food place for as long as I was physically able. I would speak to my mom and dad now and then. Looking back now, I’m sure this was a heartbreaking time for them.
When I was not working, I was preparing for the new baby. I went to the local public aid office and applied for financial assistance and a medical card. Then I went to the health department and received information regarding WIC- Women Infants and Children, a federally sponsored aid program for mothers and their babies. I’m not sure how I knew where to find all of these resources on my own but I did.
I was determined to make the most of the bad choice I had made.
Throughout the process, I felt so much peace about becoming a mother. Though our local pregnancy center had just opened in 1991, I actually didn’t know it existed at that time. Had I known, it would have been such a wonderful place for me to connect with!
In June of 1993, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy into our family. Once Trey was born, my dad saw him, held him, and all was made new. He and Trey remained very close until my father’s passing in 2003.
So now the story jumps ahead to present day. There is a Bible quote from Jeremiah that I feel perfectly describes my journey to where I am now.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
Due to my own unplanned pregnancy, I have always had a place in my heart for young moms who are like me. About 5 years ago, I learned that Living Alternatives Pregnancy Center – a place that helps moms facing unplanned pregnancies like I was many years ago – existed in Kankakee County, Illinois.
As a nursing student, I was able to connect with the center and complete a project regarding the resources and services it provides. I knew then that I would enter this place again once I graduated.
Near the end of 2016, I learned that Living Alternatives was looking to hire a nurse manager. I immediately applied and knew this was something God had been preparing me for. Once I was offered the position, I accepted it!
Since joining the center, I have experienced many full circle moments and continue to experience them each day. God is so good and has been so faithful! I continue to be amazed at the work that’s being done here and the work He will continue to do in fighting the battle of abortion. I am humbled and blessed to be a part of this work and to continue along this journey.
As of the end of May of this year I officially AND successfully completed the required NIFLA training course and ultrasound training. I have been scanning and meeting with clients at our center for about a month now and am blessed to have this opportunity! I ask you continue to pray for the work we are doing here in Kankakee, Illinois.
God is so good. He truly knows the plans He has for us, and wants to bring joy from every situation in life, if we only let Him!
–Shannon Shoemaker, RN