Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet Author and Activist Dianne Butts

Interview by Mary as it appears in the January online edition of The Wordsmith Journal

Dianne Butts, author of the recent release Deliver Me, has more on her mind these days than abortion. One might believe while perusing her book that she is just another pro-lifer, and in one important aspect, they would be right. She not only petitions victims of abortion to know the truth and seek healing, she wants everyone to know about the life that embracing Jesus Christ offers; eternal life. “For those reading this who have lost a child to abortion, I want them to know that their child lives. Even though the child died before he or she had the awareness to give their hearts to Jesus Christ, Jesus took that child straight to heaven. That child is with Jesus in heaven right now. The parent(s) can go to heaven if they accept Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice for all of their sins. When they meet their child in heaven, there will be no condemnation, only love, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Don’t listen to the lies. Believe the Truth, and live.”

MN-Looking over your blog and websites, it's obvious you have a lot of compassion for those hurting or who have suffered a loss. Did this develop through personal experiences or is it a God given ministerial call?

DB-I believe it's both. I took a "spiritual gifts inventory" workshop once years ago and it said one of my top three gifts is the gift of "mercy." My compassion for the hurting and those who have suffered loss also comes from my own experiences. I wrote my own story in my first book, Dear America: A Letter of Comfort and Hope to a Grieving Nation, which I wrote in the weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I didn't lose anyone that day, but I lost my Dad when I was fifteen and my brother two days after I turned eighteen. I lost a two grandparents and a friend at school in that same time frame. I learned a few things about grief, and so I shared what I learned in that book.

As a Christian writer it seems easiest to write for those who are already believers, and there's nothing wrong with "preaching to the choir" because the choir needs it too. But I also want to reach those who do not yet believe in Jesus Christ. I don't call them “non-believers.” I call them ‘not-yet believers.” We Christians have the Manna, the spiritual bread that sustains us for all eternity, if we will just share it with them. That's what I'm trying to do through my writing. That's why my motto is "Gathering manna and giving it out."

MN-In your book titled Deliver Me, you give men a voice when it comes to sharing how abortion affects them as you say, now that they've had time to contemplate their choices and to live with the decisions that they made. Generally speaking, what are men telling you after the fact?

DB-It seems strange to me that unplanned pregnancy and abortion are considered “women's issues.” A woman doesn't get there without a man being involved. Deliver Me has a whole chapter dedicated to men. Each story is precious and shows how abortion affects men deeply, just as it affects women deeply. The story the sticks with me most is Scotty Vaughn’s, perhaps because I sat down with Scotty and interviewed him so I could write his story.

Scotty was married with two children and was a musician (he became a singer with the Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs for twenty years) when his wife was pregnant with their third and he just didn't think they could do it with three kids. He didn't fully grasp what he had done until he held his first grandchild--and then he knew, and was completely devastated. Had he not come to know God in the mean time, well...who knows how he would have gotten through that?

Scotty is now a Pastor and works with men who have lost a child to abortion as he has, and he's heard it all—all the reasoning, all the excuses. He boils it down saying he doesn't very often see stories where the man had no choice in the matter. He says most of the time either the man said, “You do whatever you want to do,” which means the man “checked out.” “He didn't offer her his strength," Scotty said. "When we say [that], we're saying ‘I don't want any part of this.’” Or the man either subtly or not says, “This is a imposition. You need to get rid of this baby.”

Men who have lost a child to abortion suffer tremendously. Our society and political forces try to say it isn't so, but the men themselves say they do. There is a list of symptoms many women experience after abortion, and believe it or not, men experience the same list, which includes drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and believing God will never forgive them. You can find a list of symptoms both men and women might experience here:

There is help. Most community pro-life pregnancy centers offer private or group counseling and classes to explore the feelings that are common. You are not alone. God loves you and will forgive you. Abortion is not the “unforgiveable sin.” There is only one unforgiveable sin, and that is to refuse or reject Jesus the Savior, Who paid for all our sins.

MN-In your book, you share a statistic that states at current rates, by age 45, about 43% of women will have at least one abortion. That means roughly 1 in 2 women that we meet in our day to day activities will have an abortion or are living with post abortion issues. What can a) churches and b) individuals do to step up and minister to this broad group of victims? These numbers are too staggering to ignore.

DB-Yes, I was astounded to see that statistic, too, which I found here:

As with any problem, the first step is to recognize there is a problem. After that, first churches need to talk about it compassionately realizing how many women (and men) in attendance are living with this secret. Once someone begins talking about it, there’s an opening for wounded people to ask for help. But before they will ask, they must know it is safe: that they will not be condemned, that they will be loved (which is hard for many of them to believe). Individuals can do the same—just listen, love, and do not condemn. I can’t tell you how many people, after seeing my book, have said, “My friend just told me she had an abortion…” Wounded people need to talk about it to find healing, but to talk about it they are risking everything—relationships, reputation, etc. So we have to communicate that it is safe for them to try.

Second, they need more than a listening ear. They need forgiveness from God and to experience His love. The way to find this is in His Word, the Bible, but most people don’t know how to find it by themselves. There are Bible studies that will walk women and men through an understanding of God’s love in Christ’s atonement for our sins. Also, almost every pro-life pregnancy center has counselors and/or groups that are designed to do this very thing. Many of the group classes end with a memorial service to honor the lives of the aborted children of the participants.

Churches and individuals can find a pregnancy center closest to them at Optionline. These pregnancy centers promise confidentiality. There you will find kind and compassionate people—many of whom have been through this themselves (which is why they are there helping others).

Of course I wrote the book because I believe there is power in true stories, of hearing what someone else has been through and how they got through it. I wrote the book with all the kindness and compassion I could muster. I didn’t want anyone to feel condemned reading the book—only loved and helped and lifted up and given hope. My desire now is to get Deliver Me into the hands of every person it can help.

MN-Both right to life and pro-choice sides can state their positions and are well versed in making a convincing argument. Putting aside the double speak and slogans, and releasing you from the burden of proving or disproving a theory, what does the abortion issue boil down to in its simplest form?

DB-Truth and lies. Life and death—and not just of the fetus.

Conceiving and giving birth is us participating with God in creation. Satan hates God, but he can’t get to Him so he does his best to hurt God by hurting God’s beloved, His creation: His people. Satan the devil is a liar and the father of lies. In the abortion issue, Satan’s lies sound like this: “It’s just a clump of cells. It’s your body; you have the right to do what you want to with it. This is an easier, quicker solution to a harder, long-term problem. No one will know. It’s too late. What’s done is done. Nothing can change it. No one can help you now. God will never forgive you for this.”

This is what Truth sounds like: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

The abortion issue is so heated and passionate because it truly involves life and death, right out there in front where everyone can see the bloody truth. But boiled down to its simplest form, it’s the same as any other issue, really: Lies lead to death. Truth leads to life.

MN-Science has made great progress in helping infertile women conceive when they otherwise would have remained childless. Due to advancements, we can also watch the unborn through the use of ultrasound. Have these technological advances removed the miracle of conception and have in some mindsets, discredited the possibility of a creator? How can believers remain steadfast when confronted with this belief system?

DB-I don’t see how seeing the unborn through ultrasound can possibly remove the miracle of conception. I can only see it enhancing it. We don’t see the conception take place; we see the product of it: there’s a baby there!

At 22 days after conception, a baby’s heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood, often a different blood type than the mother’s. If you’ve seen the “Precious Feet” lapel pin, it is the exact size and shape of the feet of a fetus at 10 weeks after conception. Based on a photograph taken by a doctor, you can see that the feet are perfectly and completely formed human feet. At 10 weeks. All true science supports the Truth, which is God the Creator’s truth. The “Precious Feet” lapel pin is one tool believers can use, but more basically believers can always remain steadfast and confront wrong belief systems by holding up and speaking out the Truth.

MN-Many people have had a difficult time showing empathy for Michelle Duggar's recent loss. Do you believe society in general has grown cold to the miracle of life and has eliminated the dignity the unborn child deserves?

DB-I believe our society has grown cold to a lot of things—life, compassion, purity, Truth… Any loss, especially the loss of a child, is devastating and nobody, nobody, has the right to diminish the pain someone else feels. Their pain is real regardless of the circumstances or what someone else judges may have brought it about.

In my first book, Dear America, I wrote about comparing one person’s pain with another’s by telling this little story from when I lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado:

“Trying to compare such things a grief and pain reminds me of the cold snaps we endured in the small town where I used to live in the mountains of Colorado. Every January we experienced a cold spell unlike any I had known before. Daytime highs climbed only to twenty below zero. Nighttime lows dipped to forty, fifty, even sixty below. During those times I thought, There is a point where the actual temperature ceases to matter. Whether it is twenty below, forty below, or sixty below doesn’t make much difference. It is just flat cold!

“When it comes to our pain, it is often the same. Whether our own private world is shattered by the death of one person—one parent, one spouse, one child, one loved one—or our nation is shattered by the deaths of thousands, our world is shattered nonetheless. Our pain is greater than words can express. Our sorrow cuts deeper than we think we can bear. And we wonder how we can go on” (Dear America page 10).

When individuals are callous and cold to the pain of others, this is a symptom of something else that lives within that individual. It may be trying to deny the pain they can’t bear to feel of their own loss. It may be guilt they are trying to hide from. But Michelle Duggar and her family not only have a right to their pain, they own it. It is theirs. They have the right to grieve the loss of their child through miscarriage. No one can take that away from them. It exists. It simply is.

That is the same with the dignity the unborn child deserves: It exists. It simply is. No one can take that away. Ever.

MN-In January, churches across the country will participate in the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. What would you like to see accomplished during these events?

DB-In 1983, President Ronald Regan issued a proclamation establishing a National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Each year, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is held on the Sunday closest to January 22, the date in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision on Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton which legalized abortion on demand. Today, across the nation in churches and other organizations, SOHLS events remember those decisions and the results: more than 50 million abortions in the United States.

The first thing I would like to see accomplished is awareness. I still find Christians who have never heard of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and who are completely unaware of the statistics.

Evil accomplishes most of its work in the dark. As the Truth comes to light and people become aware of statistics like “by age 45, about 43% of women will have at least one abortion” and “more than 50 million x abortions in the United States” since 1973, they are moved to action.

I believe the pendulum on the abortion issue is beginning to swing toward pro-life, and that is because people are becoming more aware of the real science and the real numbers.

I also hope this awareness would lead to heartfelt repentance and prayer for God’s forgiveness for our nation before sin leads to the death of our nation.

MN-Tell me about your involvement with the Christian Motorcyclists Association.

DB- I’ve been riding a motorcycle since 1976—long before I was a Christian. After Hal and I got married in 1981, and after we both became followers of Christ later in the eighties, Hal heard about this organization but there wasn’t a chapter close enough to us to join. When we moved to Lamar, Colorado, we found a chapter and joined in 1996.

The Christian Motorcyclist Association in not a club (with dues and must-do’s) but an association of Christian motorcycle enthusiasts. We ride with the purpose of sharing the knowledge of Jesus Christ with those we meet along the highways and byways. A motorcycle is a great conversation-starter.

This directly feeds my desire to tell those who don’t know Jesus about Him—that He is God come in the flesh, that He is real and lives and that He knows their name and loves them, that there is a heaven and hell and one decision we make while living on this earth determines which place we will spend eternity.

MN-What projects are on your calendar for 2012?

DB- I want to write more books. Currently I’m seeking a traditional publisher for my book about “Non-Moms.” If you didn’t notice, my pregnancy story is not in Deliver Me (because I don’t have one. Hal and I have been married 30 years and I’ve never been pregnant). Being a Non-Mom has its own issues that most people seem unaware of. That’s my story and I would like that to be the topic of my next published book.

I’m also writing a book on Death. I know. Nice, cheery subject, that one, right? But I want to talk more about what we talked about earlier: that there is physical life and death, and there is spiritual life and death. When you know God’s view of life and death it is the most hope-filled topic on earth! I want to tell people who don’t know God how He sees death and life, where I find that in the Bible, and that while we don’t have a choice about physical death, we can choose spiritual (eternal) life. So choose Life.

I have more nonfiction books in mind for a series the Death & Life book would start, with titles like When You Don’t Get Your Healing and When You Can’t Understand God. I want to write about how God has proved He exists which includes writing about the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the Feasts of the Lord, prophecies fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, and the story of God’s involvement throughout human history. Okay, maybe not all of that in 2012.

I also have a line of helpful printed pamphlets for writers or people who want to write for publication that I’ve sold for years at conferences I attend, but I’m currently working on turning them into e-books for Kindle so they will be easily and instantly available to more people. I’m very excited about this! Watch for those to come out in 2012.

I’ve wanted to write fiction since I started writing in 1989 and I’m also a screenwriter, so I have stories I’m developing in both of those forms and I hope to get one or two written in 2012.

And then there are my usual article deadlines I struggle to keep up with since I constantly want to do everything else. Currently I’m writing regularly for The Christian Pulse (the 2012 series is about prophecy coming true right before our eyes), Finding God Daily, and some print magazines.

MN-For those entering the year with hesitation due to speculation regarding the year 2012, what would you say to them?

DB-Our future does not depend on the Mayan calendar. Time and the future of everything that will happen on earth in 2012 and beyond, both in the big picture and in the details of every individual’s life, is in God’s hands. (And yes, He’s big enough to care about the daily details of your life even while He’s attending to global governments and peoples.) The Cross of Jesus Christ stands at the center of Time and all time is in His hands. For those who have given their hearts and lives and devotion to Jesus Christ, we are in His capable hands. There’s no better place to be.