Category Archives: parenting

CPO Families Celebrate Christmas

No two families look the same, and that is true here at CPO.  We see the miraculous way that God makes families and this holiday CPO families are sharing a little glimpse into their lives.

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The Jacobson Family

Family Christmas Photo

The McCune Family

Dakota Wilkin & Family

Family Christmas

The Poverud Family

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The Poverud Family

Fisher Family christmas

Jarad, Rhonda & Milly with birth mom Amanda.

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Summer Ratzlaff with birth mom Dakota and Eric Dunn, and Dakota’s mom Rhonda Wilkin, Blake’s “Mimi”

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The Wicar Boys

Family Christmas

The Justice Family

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The James Family

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The Potter Family

Taylor Family Christmas

The Taylor Family


Volunteers Matter: Ashley Ledbetter

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has been 100% run by volunteers since its inception more than 30 years ago. No one has ever received a salary, which enables CPO to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Tulsa area women. We know that volunteers matter, and to honor them we periodically interview and highlight one of our volunteers. This week we hear from a dedicated volunteer, Ashley Ledbetter.

Q: How do you volunteer with CPO?
A: After hours phone calls, interviewing parenting moms and writing their stories for the blog, photography for CPO events like the Easter party and Birth Mother’s Day.

Q: How long have you been volunteering with us?
A: Since the beginning of this year.

Q: How did you find out about CPO?
A: We have friends who have adopted through CPO and my friend  mentors a CPO birth mom.  We also found CPO on the internet when trying to choose an adoption agency. After we pursued DHS adoptions, God told us we needed to use CPO.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with CPO vs. other organizations? What is it about CPO that drew you to us?
A: Well, because we have to for our adoption to be finalized! But it worked out because I actually wanted to volunteer last year but I had just delivered Siren and we were still settling into Tulsa. I ended up putting it on the back burner and then we became a waiting family so it was time to volunteer!

Q: What is it about crisis pregnancies that drew you to us?
A: The opportunity to serve a baby AND birth mother. The opportunity to have an open adoption and try to experience that reality.  Initially we thought of adoption as a “win,” because the baby is being rescued from a home that can’t take care of it, and because we gain a child into our family.  Later we started seeing it more as a “loss,” because the baby has this deep innate need for their biological parents and the solution for the brokenness coming from that separation should be reunification.  The solution should be an equipped mom and dad, a healthy household, a clean, safe, loving environment… so without that adoption felt like a “loss” for everyone.  Ultimately, we are now seeing open adoption as “adoption.”  Not a win or loss, just the receiving of an entire family unit (however big or small in each case) into our family unit.  Through open adoptions we can experience the win and joy of receiving a child into our home, we can redefine reunification by encouraging and nurturing healthy relationships between our adopted child and their birthfamily while also developing a new union between ourselves and our adopted child’s birth family.  And since CPO is a Christian ministry, we can do all of this with Jesus at the forefront of our plans, relationships and actions, without which, all of these hopes would ultimately be unattainable.  Because God is at work in this organization, we are eager to be at work in it too.

Q: Why is our cause so close to your heart?
A: I think because God has put it there, but also because I can relate.  I grew up in a non-Christian home and I have made most of the mistakes I have heard some of the birth moms mention in their own lives.  I can relate to broken relationships, sometimes wreckless behavior etc. Also, I love babies and children (nannied for 5 years before having Siren), so both beneficiaries of CPO’s focus are people that are close to my heart.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since volunteering?
A: I put way too much pressure on myself- because I was glued to my phone all day on Valentine’s Day worried I might miss a call!  Maybe also that is hard to motivate myself sometimes to serve, until I am serving, and then its easy and fun and I can’t wait to do more. So I guess I have learned that my heart really does WANT to serve, and it’s important to carve away everyday obstacles and distractions to really protect that time to give to others and to give to the Lord. Because I need to serve more than I need to wash the dishes… but I forget that’s true when the sink is full of last night’s pots and pans.

Q: How have you seen God’s hand at work through CPO?
A: Oh gosh, I have seen one of my closest friends raise a baby boy they adopted through CPO, that could be enough right there. I think any time I hear a story, of adoption or parenting, it’s pretty evident that God has planned these families with intense attention to detail and personality and circumstance and timing.  Even when we didn’t have a baby yet I kept hanging on the day in October that I KNEW God wanted us to use CPO. I was crying and telling Chase we have to drop DHS and use Crisis Pregnancy Outreach instead and he was like “I know.”  Those days are God’s hand at work.

Q: What would you say to anyone considering becoming involved in CPO?
A: There are so many different ways to help. You can be involved a whole lot or you can do something very small once a month or once every few months.  It’s worth it. Just check it out and find a place where you fit.  I came in willing to do anything, even though one of the only things I was secretly hoping to get to do was photography.  I didn’t think there would be a need for photos because there is such a need for phone answering and office type work, and I found out on one of my first days that CPO was actually in need of some photographers for BMD!  Praise the Lord!  So, even if you think there might not be a place for you, God probably has a place for you.  And if He DOES have a place for you, it’s probably a place you would love to be in.  So check it out.md4a


Get Your Shop On!

We are very excited to announce that CPO’s online store is officially OPEN!

We have lots of awesome stuff. There’s apparel (shirts, onesies, hats) for all ages, coffee mugs, tote bags, and more.

Lots of us already have our CPO gear! Don’t be left out!

And best of all, a portion of every sale goes to support CPO!

The link is always in the top menu on our website, or you can click here to shop now.

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At CPO

At CPO, women feel safe.
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At CPO, children play freely.
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At CPO, volunteers are dedicated.
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At CPO, women learn to trust.
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At CPO, we come together.
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At CPO, we celebrate accomplishments.
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At CPO, we live.
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At CPO, we thrive.
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At CPO, lives are changed.
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Retro CPO: From the Heart

Each month we will feature a “retro” CPO article, one that is pulled from our archives of quarterly newsletters. Whenever possible we will provide details regarding the author and date of publication.

This month’s Retro CPO article is an email sent to Cheryl from a birth mother, R, in the fall of 2005.

Cheryl,
Wow! I am online, and searching under links for crisis pregnancy, because the number I had for you didn’t work, and look where it gets me! Your email address! This is so awesome! I know you remember me. It’s been so long since I have heard your voice or seen your face, but you know that I think about you and CPO and all the help you’ve given me in the past, almost every single day.
In fact, I wouldn’t be here today if not for your organization and the simple acts you perform for young, single pregnant women with nowhere to turn. I talked to Lynn about 2 years ago now, and told her about how I was doing. At that time, I was working, attending church, and doing everything I could for my two children, M and C. And then all of a sudden, I took a turn for the worse. I got back with my ex, and became pregnant again.
Seems horrible, doesn’t it, that I could get back with such a monster and attempt to ruin my kids’ (and mine!) already fragile lives and bring another being into the world? But things got better (after I ended the relationship, which had begun again in September 2003) after I kicked him out of our apartment in November 2003.
I wasn’t alone in this pregnancy, Cheryl. I met wonderful people while working at Lowe’s Home Improvement, while I was still pregnant with my youngest son, B. One of those people is Shawna, my best friend in the whole world, my sister in Christ, my reason for renewing my faith in our Lord Jesus. She has no children, and the only reason we became friends was her strong faith in God and her willingness to help people. Shawna and her husband, Larry, have been such inspirations to me.
I only wish that I could highlight other girls’ lives with hope, like Crisis Pregnancy Outreach did for me. You have helped me, even when you knew that I wasn’t on the right path, even when you knew I was putting myself, a man, and his and my needs before God and before my children, who came first in my life.
Your organization gave me so much strength, when I thought I wouldn’t make it, when I had no courage, even when I was miles and miles away from you, in a whole different state, to still be determined, to still attempt to walk the path of righteousness, to hope when no hope seemed real and available to me, for my life and my children’s lives, and now look! I have three beautiful children, a wonderful and safe place to live, marvelous friends and family with whom I share my support, and my loving God who forgives me at every turn and whim. God is good, all the time!

Love in Christ,
R

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Parenting Success Story: Kelsey

Many women who come to CPO during their crisis pregnancies choose to parent their child. We are happy to support them in their efforts with counseling, mentors, parenting classes, and more. From time to time we would like to highlight one of our parenting success stories. This is the second installment in our series, again written by Ashley Ledbetter.

Spending time with the parenting women and birth moms who have found their way to CPO is an enlightening experience. Not only because of their strength and determination but because they have tasted parts of this life that go largely unnoticed by those of us who have not shared in their circumstances. Stepping into the shoes of a girl experiencing an unplanned pregnancy triggers some empathetic initial responses. Two of my first thoughts were,“How difficult it must be to choose another family to raise your child so that they can experience a two parent household” and “How draining it must be to finish school while parenting an infant”. Well, I have recently been presented with an aspect to their journeys that had not previously crossed my mind, and it has deeply impacted my heart: “How painful it must be, after making the wisest choice possible for you and for your child, to stand vulnerably in the world and then become the recipient of reproach and rejection.”
Working backwards, Kelsey Fallis (age 23) is a single mother to Lucas (age 6). She is currently student teaching. She is inches away from completing her degree in education and beginning her career as a high school math teacher. She is the first in her family to complete a college degree of any kind, and she is not the oldest child, by the way. Lucas, when asked what he thinks about his mom, immediately says, “I like her.” Bottom line: Kelsey is a success story. She has overcome immense odds, made difficult and beautiful decisions for her and her son, and she is looking into the future with responsibility and newfound wisdom. When she tells her story though, the real obstacle to overcome was not pregnancy or parenting; it was rejection. Doubt. Condemnation. Discouragement. Wrongful judgment. These are the things that stood in her way. These are invisible barriers that reveal themselves in hurtful words and actions shared by relatives, friends, and even strangers. I considered sharing an example of the comments Kelsey has heard but, frankly, they are unworthy of repeating. They can be summarized by the general messages they carry: You are unacceptable. You are unworthy. You are a failure. You are hopeless. Your future is hopeless.
Anyone who has experienced an unplanned pregnancy, whether choosing to parent or make an adoption plan, may entertain the thought that “this now defines me.” So let’s be clear: IT DOES NOT. The girls who have chosen to partner with CPO have responded to their pregnancies with responsibility, thoughtfulness, maturity, and love. They choose to show these unexpected babes a love that surpasses everything else. They are willing to sacrifice their plans, desires, bodies, friendships, romantic relationships, and even family relationships all for one precious soul. These girls, whether they choose adoption or parenting, are heroes. If any decision or action does define them, it is their choice to resist running from their mistakes and to take responsibility for themselves and their children. They are not perfect. They are beautiful, loving, and selfless.
When Kelsey became pregnant at age 15, she knew almost immediately that she would choose to become a parent. She and her mother approached CPO with some curiosity about adoption but soon joined the parenting support group and began individual counseling to prepare to raise Lucas. Although support from Lucas’ father, E, wasn’t consistent, Kelsey did have the tangible support of her family members and E’s family members. She continued to live at home for the next several years to complete high school and an Associate Degree from TCC to prepare the way for her teaching certification. Raising a baby while enrolled in school proved to be one of her most difficult challenges. High school friends couldn’t relate to her new life of responsibility. Teachers failed to empathize with her circumstances and freely expressed their disapproval. Not only did school become an unwelcoming place, the church she was attending also rejected her because of her status as an unwed mother. Romantic relationships were difficult to attempt and sustain. Kelsey didn’t date at all until Lucas was 4 years old. In addition to these difficulties, she also received notable confrontation from strangers many of the times she stepped into public. In Kelsey’s words, “I was a 16 year old pushing a cart with a baby that looked EXACTLY like me. Everyone knew I was his mother or his sister… probably not his sister.” A trip to the grocery store became an opportunity for spectators to throw stones, and they did.
(SIDE NOTE: I’m imagining what someone might say to ME if I went to Target tomorrow wearing a neck sign with a list of mistakes I made 5 years ago. Yikes! Maybe EVERYONE should just start wearing them so that the playing field may finally be leveled. Let’s not forget: We. Have. ALL. Fallen. Short.)
Thankfully, for each of these hardships there were places of relief and encouragement. Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has a long list of resources available to girls like Kelsey. They offer free counseling, parenting classes, housing, mentors, and financial help, to name a few. Kelsey didn’t take advantage of several resources offered to her because many of the girls at CPO do not have any help from family members, and she did. She considered the needs of other girls who were truly “alone” to be in greater need than she was. For her, the greatest gift from CPO was deeply needed moral support and reassurance. Regular counseling and her relationship with the parenting coordinator, Tracie Roesslein, were sources of encouragement and motivation for her to keep moving toward her goals. She mentioned calling Tracie when she would be burdened by a harsh comment in the grocery store or when a relationship had wounded her and created what she now calls a “set back.” April Walters (a longtime CPO volunteer and adoptive mom) has been another support to her, she is currently assisting Kelsey in her search for a teaching position.
Almost 8 years from the beginning of her pregnancy, Kelsey is living with her dad while she fulfills the plan that has been in place for so many years. She will be teaching math this fall, hopefully moving Lucas to a new school and looking to buy her first home. She even has her first family vacation planned for this summer. Their destination is a surprise for Lucas, but it starts with a ‘D’ and ends with ’isney’… SSHHHH! 🙂image3
Parenting is difficult enough without the criticism of those around you, no matter who you are. Kelsey has encountered significant opposition, but God has been gracious to use it for good. (If you are looking for a good read in a similar vein, I recommend Joseph’s story from Genesis 37-50, ending with one of the most beautiful verses in the Old Testament, Gen 50:20.) Kelsey has continued to learn more about the Lord and His plan for her. Messages of rejection and judgment towards her and Lucas have not ceased; it is possible they never will. CPO has been able to offer her a light in the darkness while also encouraging her toward the true light that is Jesus Christ. It is with faith in His forgiveness and redemption that Kelsey can put out the fiery darts of the enemy. She says “When Jesus comes back, He will be the only one who can judge me.”
Kelsey and Lucas are now attending a church that accepts them with the true love and mercy of Jesus Christ. E has begun taking steps to be more involved in Lucas’ life.
“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-12


Join Us at the CPO Easter Party!

You’re invited to the CPO Easter party! It will be held April 4th from 2-4 at CPO.
This party is for everyone involved with CPO: parenting girls, birth moms, adoptive families, and volunteers! And most important: KIDS!
Come join us for food, fun, and our annual egg hunt!
Plus, this year there will be a very special guest! No spoilers here, but he has two floppy ears and a fuzzy tail!

Here are some pics from last year. Look at all the fun we had!

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Hope to see you there!


Parenting Success Story: Kaci

Many women who come to CPO during their crisis pregnancies choose to parent their child. We are happy to support them in their efforts with counseling, mentors, parenting classes, and more. From time to time we would like to highlight one of our parenting success stories. The article below, written by Ashley Ledbetter, is the first of such highlights. Stay tuned for more!

One area of focus for Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is, naturally, the Realm of Parenting. When girls and women make the decision to partner with CPO their immediate needs may be healthcare and mental/emotional support, but after several months of pregnancy the point is eventually reached at which their cumbersome bellies leave- and their precious baby stays. In many cases Baby is placed with an adoptive family, chosen by the birth mother, to be raised up and trained in the way they should go. Other times, the mother chooses to parent. It is not a simple choice.
In the case of Kaci Caruthers parenting wasn’t the first choice. As she will tell you though, “everything happened the way it was supposed to happen.”k3Kaci became pregnant at age 16. The birth father, Winston, was 18. As a high school sophomore she sought out CPO with the intention of making an adoption plan. She took part in the free counseling that CPO provided her and attended the monthly adoption support groups. She was even able to choose the adoptive family that would care for her son. As with many CPO stories, Kaci’s plan didn’t exactly come to pass as she had anticipated. The delivery day came. Things changed. In short, Winston and his relatives were unwilling to consent to the adoption. In response to the unforeseen conflict, Kaci ultimately decided to become a parent to her newborn son, Bryson.
Since Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is equipped to support girls in adoption AND parenting, Kaci continued to receive its resources. She continued weekly counseling, one of the most treasured resources available to her, and began to attend the parenting support group where she identified with other girls going through similar journeys as herself. Kaci’s mother took on an extremely supportive role, helping and babysitting (to say the least) as well as caring for Bryson at night while Kaci slept so that she could continue her education. In May of 2010 Kaci graduated from high school with honors… and a 1 year old.kaci2kaci1One of the most inspiring and encouraging things about Jesus Christ is His ability to restore. He makes old things new. He lifts the needy from the ashes and seats them among princes… He has them inherit a throne of honor (1 Sam 2:7) It has been 5 years since Kaci brought her son home. She is, undeniably, a story of success and restoration. Her once rocky relationship with Winston has grown away from tension and uncertainty and towards stability and maturity. They have been living on their own for almost 2 years, working steady jobs and allowing Bryson to participate in Asbury’s preschool program. The extended family dynamics that were once conflicting are now at peace. Kaci and Winston consider both sides of their families to be there for them whenever they need help. Kaci’s relationship with Jesus has grown deeper. She is progressively enjoying the experience of placing others above herself, even if it means her grown-up shopping trips bring home bags of Baby Gap instead of new clothes for mommy- something ALL moms can relate to! Her life is not as simple as it might have been if she had not become pregnant at 16 years old, or had her adoption been completed as planned. Fortunately, now she gets to end her days playing “Barbie and Batman” in the bathtub with her son. She has the privilege of learning to care for another human being. No one can be a perfect parent but Kaci and Winston are striving to train Bryson to know and understand right from wrong while teaching him to “trust God and know that He always has a plan.”k2Kaci made a decision early in her pregnancy that she would encourage every girl in her situation to consider: ‘think about the baby.’  Years later she continues to embrace the same decision, “It’s my goal to give him the best life he could ever have!”
She recommends Crisis Pregnancy Outreach to everyone she knows.

Photo credits: First and last taken by Ashley Ledbetter, second taken by Alexis Newton, third taken by Melinda Hunley.


Retro CPO: My Story

Each month we will feature a “retro” CPO article, one that is pulled from our archives of quarterly newsletters. Whenever possible we will provide details regarding the author and date of publication.

This month’s Retro CPO article was written by an anonymous birth mother in the Spring of 2005.

I am parenting two girls, who are 8 and 11 years old. I made adoption plans for two girls, who are now 19 months and 7 months. I recently went back to school to become a Dental Assistant. I know that if I had not made adoption plans for the two younger girls, I would not have gone to school.

In December 2002 I discovered I was pregnant. I could not believe the home pregnancy test, so I went to a crisis pregnancy center for another test. I didn’t know what to do, besides cry and be mad! I knew that I was not capable of raising another child on my own. The nurse gave me a list of adoption agencies, told me that CPO did open adoptions, and that I would be able to choose a family. I was so worried about the fact that both the birth father and I are Native Americans. I knew the baby must be placed with a family of the same tribe. [Editor’s Note: Some parts of the law have changed since then, but placing NA babies is still quite regulated.] I was afraid that would make it hard to find a family, but it was not a problem.

I put off calling Cheryl for several days. I felt so ashamed that I did not feel capable of parenting this baby, despite the face that I was taking care of my older girls. When I met with Cheryl, she assured me that I was making the loving choice for all of us, and I felt a lot better.

I met the adoptive family and felt good about placing my baby with them. When I went into labor, I called them, and they arrived in time for her to be born. At first, I felt hurt knowing that I would not be parenting M. I didn’t want to leave the hospital. My biggest concern was that I wanted her to know that I love her. I did not want her to grow up hating me.

Shortly after giving birth, I became pregnant again. I called Cheryl, and began meeting families. I knew instantly that the third family I met was perfect, even though they did not have as much “Indian blood” as I had hoped! The adoptive mother and I talked a lot and she seemed so real. I felt comfortable with the whole family.

While I was in my early stage of pregnancy, I decided to go back to school. It was a real struggle, and I had several obstacles in my way. I honestly believe that if I had not had Cheryl and Mary (the adoptive mom) encouraging me and believing in me, I would not have finished.

Making an adoption plan for my babies was the hardest decision I have ever made, but it was the best decision. I know they are very much loved and are being well taken care of. Placing these two children means I can now be the mom I need to be for my older children. And I am so happy that I can see them, and be an important person in their lives.

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Volunteers Matter: Claire Theriot

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach has been 100% run by volunteers since its inception more than 30 years ago. No one has ever received a salary, which enables CPO to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Tulsa area women. We know that volunteers matter, and to honor them we periodically interview and highlight one of our volunteers.
This week we learn about Claire Theriot, the Director of Volunteers and of course, a volunteer herself!
Q: In what ways do you volunteer at CPO?
A: I am the Director of Volunteers, helping new volunteers get plugged in and find the best place they can utilize their gifts and talents within Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. I also work around 5-7 office shifts a month.
Q: How long have you been volunteering with us?
A: I have been volunteering since August 2014. I started out as an intern while working on my bachelor’s degree in Social Work at NSU. I am still currently “interning”, but am so blessed to have found a position within CPO that gives me an ample amount of hours, but also the opportunity to interact with all of the amazing volunteers!
Q: How did you find out about CPO?
A: I first heard about CPO a couple of years ago, or so. I attend Church on the Move and during a women’s bible study, we all got together for a service project. The service project ended up being to help remodel the transitional home at Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. I remember sitting in COTM’s auditorium on a July Sunday morning, watching the video about CPO and couldn’t hold back the tears or ignore the tugging on my heart. I knew somehow, someway, I was going to be a part of this organization.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer at CPO versus other organizations? What is it about crisis pregnancies that drew you to us?
A: Ever since that first exposure, CPO had always been on my heart. Being a single mom, in college, and working, I haven’t ever found time for extra activities. Once I started my senior semester, and found out that we were required to do an internship in order to graduate, I immediately called CPO, almost a year after hearing about them! They weren’t on the list of approved agencies, but I chatted with my professor and got the okay to begin my internship at CPO. I was SO THRILLED!
Q: Why is our cause so close to your heart?
A: CPO has such a special place in my heart. Almost five years ago, I found myself in a crisis pregnancy. 19, pregnant, not married… I remember thinking how my life was over. It wasn’t until I found Jesus and learned how God was going to turn all my sin, all my hurt, all my pain into something good and beautiful. I was back in college, landed a dream job, and was doing everything I could to provide the best life for my son, Ryder, and I. I have so much love and so much passion for these girls. I want them all to know that they are loved. They have purpose. They can continue on with life and become the greatest of the great at whatever God has planned for them. They just have to trust him.
CPO does this SO. WELL.
Everyone affiliated with CPO loves these girls and children so much, and want them all to know their worth! The fact that they have a 24/7 hotline? WOW! CPO truly thinks about every detail and makes this agency the best it can be for the clients.
Q: What have you learned about yourself since you began volunteering?
A: Since volunteering at CPO, I have learned a lot about humility and flexibility. Jesus said to love. For me to truly show my love, I needed to jump right in. Get my hands dirty. Use my gifts, rather than just staying in the comfort of my quiet space praying. I serve Him by serving others. I found out just how much I can benefit from a little flexibility. I am a very type A, black and white type of person, and at CPO you never know what might come up. God has shown me that it is okay to be a little unprepared and a little flustered, and even confused, because He has it all taken care of.  CPO has shown me that it’s okay when things don’t go my way… because they are going HIS way.
Q: How have you seen God’s hand at work in the ministry of CPO?
A: I have seen God’s hand in so many areas of this ministry. I am blown away daily with the fact that this entire agency is ran by volunteers. This world has beautiful, beautiful people with the kindest of hearts who keep this remarkable agency running. Hearing testimonies, seeing birth mothers in person whose lives have been completely transformed, seeing adoptive couples hold their new baby for the first time can’t be explained any other way than our almighty God’s hand at work. Even down to the fact of my DoV position. I was very behind in hours, and was wondering if CPO might not have been the best choice for the type of internship I was required to have. I knew how much I loved it, and I knew in my heart this was where I belonged. I prayed about it, and it wasn’t but a week or two later that I was asked if I would be interested in the position. It ended up that I was actually OVER my hours this past semester.
Q: What would you say to anyone who may be considering becoming involved with CPO
A: Contact me! 😉 But really, if you feel God placing this agency on your heart, you will not regret any time spent here. Not every situation is perfect, but at the end of the day, thinking about all the lives that have been transformed within this agency makes everything worth it. Also, it’s good for you!! Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It helps to reduce stress: I’ve learned that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns. Volunteering also makes you healthier! Moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one’s fate, strengthen the immune system. Optimism and joy definitely go hand in hand with CPO!

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