Serena Dyksen: When someone’s facing an unplanned pregnancy, we have to remember, like, God is going to just, strengthen your family. This little one is part of your family. It’s… And so, you know, we just have to walk it out. And, you know, with, with our church family, that responded so well. I think we need to be that church that will, will meet these young women and-
Serena: … young men, and disciple them and get into their lives and grow them. But also, be a church where, if there’s abortion… because we know one in four, in the church, that also they know that there’s healing.
John Fuller: Serena Dyksen is with us today, on Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, and this program will contain some elements that aren’t suitable for younger audiences, so please, uh, if you’ve got children nearby, direct them elsewhere. But, uh, lean in, this is a terrific broadcast we have for you, today.
Jim Daly: John, I’m so pleased to have Serena back with us. Uh, last time, we discussed her story of abuse and trauma, at the hand of her uncle. And then, as a result of that, the suffering she experienced from an abortion. Uh, I can’t imagine all that happening at 13. And, uh, you know, God doesn’t leave us in anguish, if we lean into him. And, she went on to share the grace that she discovered, the kind that, only God can give us.
Jim: And, uh, that’s what we concentrated on last time. And if you missed the broadcast, uh, go the website or get it on your smartphone. You can listen to every program that way. Uh, but it really was good, and I so appreciated her vulnerability.
Jim: Uh, today, we’re gonna talk about the healing process, uh, where God did show up, and how he took care of, both her and her husband Bruce. And Bruce is joining us today, as well.
John: Yeah, we’re glad to have him, uh, here in the studio. Uh, Serena is the author of the book, She Found His Grace: A True Story of Hope, Love and Forgiveness After Abortion. And of course, we have copies of that book, here at the ministry. You can learn more about our guest and about Serena’s ministry, by the same as, uh, the title of her book. We’ll link over to the details at, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And Bruce owns and operates a contracting company, and, uh, Bruce and Serena live in Indiana. They have four children, two adults, uh, here on earth and two in heaven, as, uh, you say. And you also have grandchildren, which is great. One more on the way, I understand. And, uh, Serena, as I mentioned, uh, has a great ministry, to post-abortive women. We’ll hear more about that today.
Jim: Serena, welcome back.
Serena: Thank you.
Jim: Bruce, it’s great to have you in here.
Bruce Dyksen: Thank you.
Jim: Let me ask you this question, because so often, today, I mean, we delay becoming an adult, until whenever, 30. You know, it’s just something that the culture, now says, I’m sure, when you share with people, even in Christian circles. Yeah, we were, you know, 18, 17, when we got married, and people go, you were kids. But, in reality, you’ve got the stuff to make it work, o- obviously, you’re still married. How many years have you been married?
Bruce: 29. Ah-
Jim: 29 years. So, you can’t say that it didn’t work. It’s not say that it wasn’t easy, right. I mean, I’m sure it had difficulty. But you did it. And i- it, it’s just, kind of refreshing, I guess, to say, okay, this happened, the right thing to do was to get married, and you did it.
Jim: That’s amazing. Congratulations.
Serena: Thank you.
Bruce: Thank you.
Jim: I mean, uh, really-
Bruce: But God gets the glory.
Bruce: He… Standing on this side of the story, we can see his fingerprints all over our story.
Bruce: And that’s been the unique part of writing the book, Serena writing the book.
Bruce: We could… we could sit back, and not ha-… I didn’t have to be 80, sitting in my rocking chair, some day, and telling my, at that point, probably great-grandchildren, reme-, I remember this day. I can sing God’s praises now, at this day in my life.
Jim: Yeah. It’s so, so good and refreshing, I guess. And we don’t have to look down on those kinds of situations. Uh, do the right thing. Be a family that comes around that young couple. Help them to establish themselves. It’s, it, to me, it’s just good. Yet, it’s not easy. And, uh, Serena, I want to turn to you, a question I wanted to ask yesterday, but ran out of time. After you got married, you went through a period of, funk-
Jim: … trauma. And, uh, you know, I can imagine it felt like a jungle, and you didn’t have a-
Jim: … machete, to hack your way out. There’s just vines growing all over you, I don’t know. But, what was going on. How far along were you and Bruce in your marriage, and what did that fog look like?
Serena: Yeah, so, uh, like I shared yesterday, we got married young, and by the age of 23, we bought our first house and we thought, we’re making it, we’re beating the odds. That’s what it looked like-
Serena: … to us, right. It was successful. Um, but I ended up having a miscarriage, and what I didn’t know at the time, is, it was a double grief and, um, that’s when we began to experience marriage issues. I, very much, started to push Bruce out, um, because he felt very unsafe, and I-
Jim: Can I… Let me ask you, in that context, um, it sounds like you were, kind of, knowledgeable of this emotion.
Jim: I’m sure it wasn’t like that. I mean-
Jim: … you had this miscarriage, it triggered things in you.
Jim: And you were, unconsciously, doing these things, I would assume.
Serena: Uh, right. I did not know, at that time. I did not understand it, at all. You know, it, it’s going through a healing process, that I can look back and identify, um, that was what was going on. I had no idea. And so, we, we had this miscarriage and, you know, um, I was just, so rocked by that. I was so grieved. And, and I was looking for Bruce to give me a comfort, that he could not do.
Serena: He didn’t, you know, it… I put him on this, this… I elevated him higher, than what I should have, you know, in my brokenness. You know, the day that we were in the parking lot of Planned Parenthood, Bruce became my hero. He became my number one.
Jim: When he said-
Serena: When he said-
Jim: … we’ll figure it out.
Serena: … we’ll figure it out, right. But, really, God should have been in that place. And I-
Serena: … did not know. You know, I didn’t realize how much I, really, elevated Bruce. And so, when I had the miscarriage, I was looking for Bruce to heal this part of me that was broken. But it wasn’t his place to do that, and so, I made him a villain. And I really put my anger towards him, a lot of the time. And then, you know, I, I was having physical issues, as well, because of the abortion. My ovary ruptured, and I nearly died.
Serena: I had to have a complete hysterectomy, by the time I was 29. And then, I started to struggle with, I’m not worthy to be a mother or a wife. Um-
Jim: And you had two children, at this point.
Serena: I had two children, and it really affected how I, uh, parented my children, because I just did not think that I deserved them.
Jim: How, how long of a period of time, was this rebellion, as you described in the book?
Serena: Yeah. So, that started in my 20s, and then by the time I was, uh, in my 30s, my kids hit middle school, and I just, um, kinda, went off the rails a little bit.
Serena: Uh, I moved out of our house and I was just going to divorce Bruce. I thought, you know what-
Serena: … he deserves better, my kids deserve better. And that’s, really, when I started drinking a lot. I started abusing prescription, uh, medication.
Jim: Just to medicate, just-
Serena: Just to medicate.
Jim: Be numb.
Serena: Yep, to be numb. I surrounded myself with people who thought that they were being a good friend to me. And, looking back, those people didn’t hold my feet to the fire. They just, kinda said, well you deserve to be angry. You deserve-
Serena: … you know, you’ve been through a lot.
Serena: Um, and so, uh, they, really didn’t encourage me in my walk, at all. And I found myself, just out partying and drinking every weekend. And, one-
Jim: And living separately.
Serena: And, living separately.
Jim: Yeah. Let me, let me get Bruce in here. Bruce, um, you saw and felt Serena’s separation, emotionally, and in, probably every way. What were you trying to figure out? I can only imagine. You’re, kind of lost. You don’t know what’s going here, specifically. How, how did you try to gain some traction in the relationship, to help her?
Bruce: Yeah. Prior to her moving out, I tried to gain traction, by trying to do things in my way and help, and try to win her back, so to speak, or just be, who she wanted me to be. And every time, when I thought I was making success, it would seem like, the goal post was moved another 30 or 40 yards away.
Jim: Mm-hmm. That’s when you know, it’s not about you. I guess, how did you keep your heart open to Serena, and not just fold up the tent and move on?
Bruce: Yeah. I think it was just, deep inside of me, I knew that divorce was not what I wanted to do.
Bruce: Um, the scripture verse that, what God has brought together, let no man break apart.
Bruce: And I can’t say that I clung onto it, but that, that’s in my core, it’s in my DNA.
Bruce: And that, just was there. And, um, my personality, is, is something that, when I see what I want to do, I put my mind to it, to try to do… A lot of times, it was, that was the wrong way to do it. But, that’s what kept me going in that direction of, of trying to do what I could, to save our marriage.
Jim: Yeah. It feels… I haven’t been in that spot, so I can only imagine. But it must feel like, it’s so out of control. Like, you can’t do, A-B-C and get D. And, uh, I think human beings, we just struggle with that. Because, control is the future of how we, you know, how we stay in peace, because we can control our environment, to the degree we want, right? And when you’re outta control, it’s probably where God wants to put us, for a season, so we can lean into him, right? Serena, ho- how… I mean, Bruce is trying really hard.
Serena: He knew-
Jim: (laughs). All the guys in the audience are going, come on Serena-
Jim: … he’s doing the best he could do.
Serena: He was. We’re-
Jim: But, you weren’t in a healthy place.
Serena: I was so, not in a healthy place, and he was doing everything he could. And it felt like, every time he tried… because, he would go up and beyond. I remember I was living someplace else and he knew that I hated the snow, and he got up before work and he came and shoveled and cleaned my car.
Serena: And I would… And, and that’s so great, right? But I was so angry at him. I was like-
Serena: Why doesn’t he just leave me alone.
Serena: And, and, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. And so, he just kept pursuing, and I was just, uh, you know, for me, I was just like, you know, I, I think, you know, if I just pushed him away enough, he would leave me alone. You know, that’s what-
Jim: And under this idea, that you’re not worthy of him.
Jim: I mean, everybody has to remember that context.
Serena: Right. I, I felt s-
Jim: So you’re pushing away, for his benefit.
Serena: Uh, r-, (laughs)-
Jim: I’m not good enough for you. I mean, I, I know it’s so scrambled, right?
Serena: It’s so scrambled, right. And, and it’s because of being in a health, unhealthy place. Uh, it w-, it was so unhealthy, emotionally. I’ve had so much trauma, I had so much hurt-
Serena: … and so much pain. I wasn’t walking with the Lord. I didn’t know the Lord, like I know the Lord now. Um, I thought, you know, I knew, but I did not know. And, and just through that process, you know, just kept running in this ridiculous cycle that was just hurting me. And, you know, it was one night of just, a heavy night of drinking-
Serena: And I say, this was probably the best thing that happened to me, was, um, I had burned my bridges. You know, people were sick and tired of me texting at 3:00 in the morning. It wasn’t funny anymore. And I r-, I remember just saying… To be honest, I knew that I had drank too much, and I thought, if I get on the road I can go to jail and I didn’t want to go to jail. Um, I wasn’t thinking of anybody, but myself.
Serena: I was so selfish.
Serena: And people, one by one, they, they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t help me. They wouldn’t rescue me. And I just remember getting in my car and I just began to weep. And I was just like, God, I have no one, but you, right now. And I what I love about God, is he saw me at my worst. I was high, I was drunk, I was a mess. I was not living for him. And he saw me, and he lavished me in a love that I had never felt in my life.
Serena: And I knew, that it was time to go home, both physically and spiritually. And, um, by God’s grace, I made it home. And I got home, and God was already working in Bruce’s heart. I did not deserve Bruce’s grace. I did not deserve for him to allow me to come back home. And God, and, and… but God was working on his heart. And, uh, Bruce met me at the door, and he welcomed me in. And-
Jim: Mm, wow, what a picture.
Serena: Uh, it was beautiful.
John: Mm. Our guest today, on Focus on the Family, are Bruce and Serena Dyksen, and, uh, Serena has a great book capturing so much of this story. Uh, we’re making that available to you today, through our website. We’ve got the link in the show notes. Or, call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And the title of that book, is She Found His Grace: A True Story of Hope, Love and Forgiveness After Abortion.
Jim: Uh, walk us through your decision to honor the children you lost, both, through the abortion and in miscarriage. What did that do, emotionally, for you? And h-, and, Bruce, I’d like to hear your input on that, as well.
Jim: But, wh- why did you do that, and what benefit was it?
Serena: Yeah. So, um, as I began, to just share my story, um, someone had approached me and asked me if I’d ever been through healing, uh, for my past abortion. And, to be honest, I did not even know that was a thing. I didn’t know that existed. And, to be honest, at that point, I thought I was in a really good place. I had done a ton of healing, and I eye-rolled this lady. (laughs).
Serena: Uh, because I thought, I’m good, I’m good. And I heard the Holy Spirit say, how do you expect to help others, if you’re not willing to go there yourself?
Serena: I was, like, well, there’s that.
Serena: And so, I went… for me, I went to a retreat, and God met me, through his Word, in a powerful way of, um… For one, I was able to grieve the loss of my two children.
Serena: And, actually, give them honor and dignity. Uh, because we didn’t do that. We, kind of, just gl-, eh, kind of, uh-
Jim: Kept going.
Serena: We kept going.
Serena: We kept plowing through. And, you know-
Jim: Yeah, wow.
Serena: … God just met me, with two names, Iliana Grace and Malakai John.
Serena: And it was, um… Eh, uh, I remember being at this, this retreat, and the Lord gave me a picture of a, a, a girl with dark hair. And beside her was a, a young man, and he had blonde hair, and it was like a picture of my children. And it was so beautiful. It was gift, that I knew the Lord was giving me.
Serena: And, uh, I finished up that weekend, and I just remember getting in the car, sharing with Bruce about, uh, Iliana Grace and Malakai John, and, and him weeping-
Serena: … just weeping, because he had not ever been able to grieve those children-
Serena: … you know, our son. He… That was the first time he had grieved, uh, Malakai John.
Jim: Mm. Bruce, let me ask you, I’m thinking, you know, so much of this content is so good. Um, playing it for my, 20 something boys, you know, sitting here and saying, okay, let’s listen to this together. And I hadn’t thought about this, but-
Jim: In that context, Bruce, your prospective, if you were sitting with my sons, they were, maybe, faced with something like that. They’re not, but just to take them through that. So I’m thinking of the dad, right now, who can do that, because of your experience. What would you say to them? Maybe, to the dad and to the young men, listening.
Bruce: Yeah, I would say, first and foremost, take a deep breath. Step back from the emotions that, that are going on. There’s a lot of emotions when, when that unplanned pregnancy, especially for a 20 year old, or, or younger, comes out. And then, go, go to Jesus. Take it to our Lord and Savior and ask for, for wisdom and, and how to navigate through this situation, and be patient. The, the journey’s not going to be easy, it’s gonna be hard and long, and sometimes you’ll want to quit. But now, for me, standing on the other side of the journey, I’m not fully complete, not until the day I get to heaven, obviously, but-
Bruce: Now, at this point in my life, I, I can, I can see God’s glory. And in this situation, as as we’ve come to this point in our life, today. So yeah, just that, that deep breath-
Bruce: And then, surround yourself with, with men, because I’m talking to men, here, that are going to pray for you, and they’re going to check up on you. Don’t put yoursel-… the 20-year-olds, or the ones that find themself in this situation, don’t put yourself on an island, because it’s no place to be.
Jim: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Bruce: Get that comradery, get that brothership that you need, around you, to pray for you. That you can send a text at any time, and say, hey look, I’m really struggling, this is really tougher than I ever thought.
Jim: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Uh, you know, so often, we get that phone call, here, John, at Focus-
Jim: And we want you to call us. Um, the counselors are there, ready. But it’ll be that moment, where a dad or mom will call and begin to express, through tears, you know, what’s happened, with their 16 year old, or their 26 year old, that they’re pregnant. And, then, they often, will talk about the mistake they made in that initial reaction. You know, that their anger, or whatever, came out. Like, how could you do this, to us? And man, you need to be careful, because that moment, is gonna define your relationship, to a large degree, for the rest of your life. That child will remember what you did and said, right there.
Serena: Exactly. Exactly. You know, I’m so thankful that we had people that, took that deep breath and, and chose to, to walk alongside of us, instead of shaming us and condemning us. They, they held our feet to the fire, but, but-
Serena: … they loved us. And, you know, with what we do, with abortion recovery, um, we will have those young girls, that will send us message and say, you know what, I’m facing an unplanned pregnancy, and I have my parents that are on the board at church. Or, they’re a part of-
Serena: … a leadership, and they’re so afraid of what people are gonna say in the church. And, you know, we, we had talked to those girls, and we’re like, you know what, um, you know, now’s the time for you to hold your parents’ feet to the fire and do what the Lord has asked.
Serena: You know, we want to honor God, in this. Um, and I know sometimes, people are like, but you’re, you’re to honor your father and mother, but we’re to honor the Lord, in this. And, and the Lord loves that baby.
Serena: And, um, sometimes we need someone to speak into this young girl, um, or young man, to s-, to say, hey folks, you know, let’s take a deep breath, it’s gonna be okay. Because God, wastes nothing. He wastes, nothing.
Serena: It’s for his, his glory, you know.
Jim: Yeah, Romans 8:28, right?
Jim: He works all things for-
Serena: He works-
Jim: … for good.
Serena: … all things good.
Serena: Yeah. And-
Jim: I mean, it’s hard to believe, when you’re in the middle of it.
Serena: Right. Right.
Jim: Let me ask you, to that point. I think, so often, the parents that are in the picture, you know, and maybe it’s a single mom, a single parent dad, who knows. But, typically, the parents in this picture, um, they take it as a reflection of, of their lack of parenting, their lack of skill, their lack of whatever. That, if their child ends up being the one coming home saying, hey, I’m pregnant, i- it, it is the battle, right there, to, to not see it as failure.
Jim: But, to now, embrace it, so God can use all things.
Jim: Like, in your lives.
Serena: Right. And-
Jim: So, but, i- i- it… Yeah, so how do you express that? (laughs).
Serena: Well, and the thing about it is, your kids are gonna make, they’re gonna make choices, right? And, that’s on them. That’s the choices that they’ve made, and so, now, we walk alongside of them and help them-
Serena: … make better choices. And, and, the baby, the baby is gonna bless your life. Like, it’s just gonna… That’s a blessing.
Serena: And that, we need to celebrate life, no matter how that baby was conceived. And, and what I’ll tell you, you know, from my parents and what we didn’t talk about. Is my parents, you know, who thought that they were doing the right thing and taking me for an abortion, what ended up happening was, that affected their lives. You know, my mom had a mental breakdown and had to check-in for two weeks.
Serena: Um, my dad ended up, eventually, leaving our family. And, you know, my mom, my mom could hear, um, what happened at that clinic, and it, it affected the rest of her life. And I think that’s what people need to, to hear, that, you know, it never took away the trauma, of my sexual abuse.
Serena: It never did. And, and so, um, you know, my parents, that was a, a pain point for them.
Jim: And we, we’ve hit that idea, of how the parent should react. But, your story, as you said, uh, involved a really loving church, that didn’t, didn’t bend on principle, but loved you. And Bruce, I w-, I just want to come back to that, for a minute. And both of you can speak to this, but the importance of how the church needs to react to that situation, and how the, the family should not receive condemnation, but care.
Jim: Right? And, what a great, right approach, that is. But, sometimes that doesn’t happen.
Bruce: Yeah, unfortunately, you’re right. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. But, by God’s grace, it happened for us.
Bruce: And, that church family, became our extended family. And we have elder members of that family, that to this day, when we talk about our kids, it’s almost like, their grandkids.
Jim: That they’re part of it.
Bruce: And the joy that they beam with. And, you know, earlier we were talking about the parents that find themselves in this situation, of, ooh, that my child did this, this unplanned pregnancy. And I’ve never asked my parents what they thought, I think I will.
Bruce: But, I know, to this day, they are so happy with our kids, and then, now their kids, that they can see generations. And then, also from my grandfather, he now has his second great-grandchild, that he has got to meet.
Bruce: That’s just… Yeah, that-
Jim: That’s what it’s about.
Jim: That’s what you see on tombstones, right?
Serena: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Jim: She was a beloved mother, or he was a great father.
Serena: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Uh-
Jim: It’s not your vocation.
Serena: Right. And, you know, I look at our kids and the relationship they have with their grandparents, it’s beautiful.
Serena: It’s so beautiful. And, and you know, that’s just, you know, just God’s hand in it, all. And I think when, when someone’s facing an unplanned pregnancy, we have to remember, like, God is going to, just strengthen your family. This, this little one is part of your family. It’s, and so, you know, we just have to walk it out. And, and, um, you know, with, with our church family, that responded so well, I think we need to be that church, that will, will meet these young women-
Serena: … and young men, and disciple them and get into their lives, and grow them. But also, be a church, where if there’s abortion, because we know one in four, in the church, that also, they know that there’s healing-
Serena: … and there’s freedom in Christ.
Jim: Don’t carry that alone.
Jim: I mean, it’s a good… You know, the, the analogy that’s so clear here, is Jesus, with the women caught in adultery.
Jim: And, you know, you’re speaking to the pharisees that had gathered and said, oh, okay, he who is without sin, you cast the first stone.
Jim: And it’s interesting that the word says, they drop the rocks they had and left, the eldest to the youngest, is kind of, the paraphrase of that.
Jim: And it’s the same thing here-
Jim: You know, if a young person is in your church and they say, I’m pregnant, yeah, okay, if you want to cast judgment, disparagements at them, uh, go ahead, but think about it.
Jim: And they should drop those stones, and embrace them.
Bruce: I would hope they would drop those stones, and like you said, embrace them. But then, lift them up in prayer, so much-
Bruce: … as they walk through that journey.
Jim: Yeah. Well, Serena and Bruce, this is an incredible redemption story. I loved the book, She Found His Grace: A True Story of Hope, Love and Forgiveness After Abortion. That captures it all. And, and, uh, thank you. I mean, you could just stay quietly at home, doing your thing, but you-
Jim: … have started the ministry and you’re sharing this, and you’re helping-
Jim: … particularly, young women, but I’m sure some young men, too. To figure out what God has in all of this. So thank you, for being with us.
Bruce: You’re welcome.
Serena: Thank you.
Bruce: Thank you.
Jim: And let me say, as I often say, uh, support the ministry here, at Focus. Do it with us, uh, be part of the team, and we’ll send you a copy of this book, as our way of saying thank you. And, let’s save babies together. You know, it’s amazing, we say this all the time, John. $60, saves a baby’s life through Option Ultrasound. Why not? Um, it’s a great program, and we have those metrics down. So, think about that. Join us that way. Send $60 and save a baby’s life. Let’s go there.
John: Mm, yeah, donate as you can. And, uh, when you do, request the book, She Found His Grace by Serena Dyksen. We’d also like to mention that we have caring Christian counselors who are prepared to, uh, listen to you, to talk with you, pray, and direct you to further resources. Whether you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, or maybe, you have questions about your faith. Again, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And we’ll have further details about resources and help, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. We hope you have a great weekend and that you can join us on Monday. We’ll hear from Bob and Linda Lotich, as they give insight about how you can be at peace with your money.
Bob Lotich: And that’s wh-, how we define, true financial freedom. Like, it’s not just about the amount of dollars in your account. It’s not about, you know, whatever, living the four work week, or being financially independent, but it’s about having that freedom to be content in Christ, regardless of what the bank account says.
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